Two multicultural student groups are on track to revive themselves after facing the threat of derecognition last semester.
Due to lack of student participation, four multicultural organizations were recommended for derecognition at the end of last semester. The United Students of Color Council, Cuban and American Students Association, Vietnamese Students Association, and Africa Diaspora Literary Society were all notified by the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
The OMA said that it wanted to support these clubs and student organizations, but because of low student involvement, the clubs need to appeal for new recognition. So far, VSA and ADLS have successfully appealed for recognition.
The other two clubs have not fully lost their recognition, Tony Lee, CC '15 and president of the Activities Board at Columbia, said. Lee said one of the ABC's roles is to derecognize defunct student groups to reallocate those groups' underutilized resources to other student groups on campus.
The process to determine if a group is inactive and defunct includes consulting with ABC group representatives and advisers, as well as checking the group's budget in search of active programming. Lee found that USCC had been inactive since 2010 and CASA since 2006.
Last semester, the activities board underwent a series of reforms that Lee said enabled the board to evaluate groups more efficiently.
“I think for the past several years, we hadn't derecognized any groups because we just didn't have time and it slipped under the radar,” he said.
However, USCC and CASA are not yet fully derecognized until the activities board gives confirmation to the OMA and Student Affairs Central Business Office to fully derecognize them and take away their funding accounts.
“Just because you're doing badly, we're not going to derecognize you,” he said. “If you're actually straight-up inactive, you're just not doing any programming, if you have no e-board, which is what happened with a couple of these groups, then that's when we come in.”
He added that the activities board is sympathetic to these problems because clubs occasionally do have bad years.
“The boards of the Vietnamese Students Association and the Africa Diaspora Literary Society actually successfully appealed our recommendation to derecognize by showing us that they indeed had a board who was willing to help the club become more active next year,” Lee said.
Rubii Pham, CC '14 and president of the Vietnamese Students Association, said that since VSA is also undergoing a board turnover, recruitment for the club is starting now.
ADLS President Olivia Harris, CC '14, said she worked closely with ADLS founder Keianna Dixon, CC '11, to try to revive the group.
Harris was interested in reviving the group to challenge some ideas present in writing by people of color.
“What surprises me is that ADLS is the only club to discuss readings from writers of color,” she said.
At ADLS's first meeting of the year, approximately 20 students were in attendance in the Malcolm X Lounge in Hartley Hall.
New member Jasmine Akuffo, CC '17, said that keeping ADLS alive is important in order to broaden the knowledge of literature written by people of color and arts beyond the Core at Columbia.
“It all started with little student groups like this being active and then trying to build something up and thus changing the future” for later students, she said.
“There's no way to talk about what has been left out. Or what's missing. Or what's felt to be missing,” ADLS Vice President David Alexander, CC '16, said. “This groups represents an avenue and area to do that.”
Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs Melinda Aquino did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
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