Growing ethnic student group seeks charter

With over 150 student organizations at Saint Louis University, from Campus Kitchen to the Korean Student Association, it appears as though every area of interest is covered. However, as student populations fluctuate so does the need for particular organizations and student representation. One potential student organization is attempting to renew their status as a Chartered Student Organization (CSO). The group, originally known as Latin American and Caribbean Club, was present on SLU’s campus years ago. However, the organization fell apart due to a decrease in enrollment from the region and a lack of interest from new students. Now, a recent increase in enrollment from the region has reawakened an interest in the organization and the population of Latin American and Caribbean students, which has grown to over 60 students, now feels the need for their voices to be heard again.

Garvaundo Hamilton, the Vice President of International Affairs, and Doerin Villafranco, a senator and one of the head members of this potential group, are teaming up to ensure this group returns to campus stronger than ever. The organization, called Caribbean and Latin American Student Association (CALSA), would appeal to a large and incredibly diverse population.

“By the sheer nature of the region, there are a multitude of cultures, ethnicities and languages that are encompassed within the group,” stated Hamilton.  With such a large variety of cultures within the region, Villafranco and Hamilton want to ensure every person is represented on SLU’s campus.

The diverse representation would provide SLU with a very unique student organization.

“The group would be one of the few, if not only, student groups on campus that has at least six different spoken languages from these regions,” said Hamilton. “CALSA would seek to showcase to SLU’s population the multi-faced region… which these students proudly represent.”

The process of becoming a CSO involves multiple steps. First, they must have at least five members to show support and lobby for the success of the group. Interested peoples would then meet with SGA’s Vice President of Student Organizations and discuss a blueprint for the group.

Finally, potential group members would meet with SGA’s Committee for Student Organizations to present their mission, constitution and other important details. If the committee votes to pass the group, they are given a four to six month probation period in which they must show they are capable of being a functional and self-sustaining student organization.

Afterwards, the committee takes a second vote on the group and, if approved, the group goes to the Senate where a final vote is taken before finally becoming a recognized Charted Student Organization.

While all of this is no easy task, the members of CALSA believe they are up to the challenge. The group also hopes to host cultural and educational events that will represent both the Latin American and Caribbean regions.

“Perhaps [we could do] a ‘taste from the region event’… events encompassing music, dance and other aspects of the Caribbean and Latin American culture,” Hamilton said.

The main goal of CALSA is similar to that of many other student groups on campus: to attain a sense of identity. Every person wants to feel like they belong at SLU. CALSA hopes to make this transition much easier for students.

Both Hamilton and Villafranco hope CALSA will help to “foster a community that will share in each other’s cultural experiences, knowledge and love for the region.” They encourage every student on campus to show support for this group and even considering joining, regardless of ethnicity.