Having already assisted in organizing a march and hosting a speed-dating event, SUNY Plattsburgh Cares is a provisional-status club geared toward spreading awareness of issues on campus and in the community.
SUNY Plattsburgh Cares held its first event last Thursday called Chick Chat, a speed-dating event for women in honor of Women’s Month last month. The club wanted to encourage women to network with one another and build potential friendships.
SPC Co-Presidents Essence Hightower and Zionna Brunson noted that women on campus often avoid forming new friendships with other women, which is why they created the event.
“A lot of women on campus walk by each other and think in their heads that a particular woman seems cool to get to know, but they don’t do anything about it,” Brunson said.
Chick Chat was geared to helping women on campus get to know each other and, “it was a great turnout,” Brunson said.
Brunson and the rest of SPC used Chick Chat to discuss the importance of women as a minority group and as individuals to know their self-worth.
Issues happening across the nation inspired PSUC senior and SPC student adviser Vrinda Kumar to help start SPC. The idea came to Kumar after assisting Plattsburgh Cares, an off-campus coalition of activist groups dedicated to human services, organize a DACA forum.
Kumar wanted to create a club focusing on the refugee crisis happening along Roxham Road in Champlain, NY but had to switch course after running into some insurance issues with the Student Association.
Kumar wanted to create a platform to educate people on the intersectionality of sex, citizenship, race and other identity markers. She consulted with Plattsburgh Cares and developed this idea into SPC.
SPC assisted Plattsburgh Cares and others, including several local religious leaders, in the “We Walk Together” that took place Thursday in efforts to show support for minority groups both on and off campus.
“Me(n) Too”, SPC’s next campus event, is a panel discussing discrimination in the workforce. The target date is next month.
Brunson and Hightower said the group and its idea to start SPC initially faced resistance from the Student Association Senate. Brunson said the Senate didn’t seem to understand why they wanted to start this club when the same organization exists in the local community.
“I don’t feel the school has done much [to help],” Brunson said. “When we first brought up the idea to the Senate, we got a lot of backlash. They didn’t understand what it is we’re trying to do.”
Furthermore, both presidents said the Senate suggested they become a diversity task force instead because their goals were similar to the Social Justice Task Force implemented last month by PSUC President John Ettling.
The co-presidents disagreed, stating that their new club has been and will continue to be more active than the task force and address a wider range of issues. Hightower noted one reason the club was created was to represent Plattsburgh Cares and give it more recognition on campus.
“I feel like ever since [we started], we’ve been trying to prove we are here for and do stand for something,” Brunson said. “We’ve trying to make a difference on this campus.”
Kumar believes SPC will help bridge the gap in our campus community and between the campus and local communities.
“The group is doing so well because all of them are proactive and extremely passionate about this cause,” Kumar said. She said the group’s responsibility and hard work won them the Dining Dollars for Donation, a competition for PSUC organizations with a prize of student-donated dining dollars.
Although SPC came first in the competition, it agreed to share its earnings with the two other organizations that competed.
Brunson emphasized that one of the club’s primary goals is to serve as a platform for students who want to increase awareness in issues that aren’t receiving adequate attention and to close the divide between the campus and Plattsburgh community.
“There’s a divide between the campus and local communities,” Brunson said. “As SUNY Plattsburgh Cares, we try to work alongside Plattsburgh Cares themselves to bridge that gap.”
The club is looking forward to hosting many more events when declared an official PSUC club. Meetings are held every Sunday at 3 p.m. in Meeting Room 3 in the Angell College Center.
“I’ll be heartbroken if we don’t gain permanent [club] status,” Hightower said. “We’ve done so much in such little time.”
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