Founded in 1992, Club Caribbean will be enjoying its 26th year as a club at Plattsburgh State next month. Since then, the club’s mission remains to represent Caribbean culture and provide diversity to campus.
PSUC sophomore Raven Cunningham, president of Club Caribbean, feels as though diversity on this campus is lacking.
“I want my culture and other Caribbean cultures to show out on this campus,” Cunningham said. “For an institution that embraces and promotes diversity, I feel that there’s no true culture here.”
PSUC senior Reshma Sukhu, the club’s treasurer, added that the club serves as a space for people of color at a primarily caucasian university. In the fall 2017 semester, of 4,894 undergraduate students, 3,078 were white and 455 were black, according to SUNY Plattsburgh’s Undergrad & Grad Headcount Summaries.
“We need a home at Plattsburgh because this is a predominantly white institution,” Sukhu said. “That’s why majority of people who attend our meetings come. It’s a way for us to bond and just be comfortable while being here.”
Club Caribbean held its annual pageant show April 7, an event that serves as one way to meet the club’s mission.
Sukhu acknowledged a common misconception about the pageant is that it’s seen as a competition of talents between the performers rather than as a display of different Caribbean islands and their cultures.
Sukhu, a double major in biomedical sciences and public health, said most people are more focused on guessing which woman will win the pageant. The real purpose, she said, is to educate Plattsburgh’s campus on what each Caribbean island is famous for.
This year’s show was particularly difficult for the board financially as they wanted to invite third party performers, but were working with a tight budget from the Student Association.
“It was kind of hard with the money they gave us but we made it work,” Sukhu said.
The Stilt Walkers and Steel Pan Players, two groups of adolescents trained in stilt walking and band playing respectively, were two groups that performed at the pageant. Stilt walkers are known as moko jumbies in the Caribbean where the activity originated.
Despite this hardship, the board was happy with the pageant’s turnout.
“[The audience] got to know the contestants more,” Sukhu said. “their countries and how their countries influenced them as people.” She noted the contestants, whom were all freshmen, were able to break out of their shells and grow as people.
“Club Games” is the club’s final event for the semester taking place May 6 on Memorial field. The event will have an olympics theme and each team will represent a country in the Caribbean.
Cunningham, Sukhu, and Vice President Levar Francis all joined and have remained a part of Club Caribbean because it acts as a safe haven for themselves and all other Caribbean students.
Francis said Club Caribbean is all about educating the campus community on Caribbean culture.
“It gives us a chance to bring a little bit of home here and let people experience what it is that we call home,” Francis said.
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