Wednesday, February 8, 2023

SA disputes Desi, Nepali clubs

Saanvi Moryani (left) and Arshita Pandey (right), president and vice president of the Desi Club respectively, tabled in Angell College Center Nov. 14. The club participated in International Education Week by offering mini lessons in 10 South Asian languages.

By Aleksandra Sidorova

The Student Association Senate approved the Desi Club for provisional status, but argued whether to allow the club Nepalese at Plattsburgh the same. The SA also approved a total of $3,571 for club events.

The Desi Club made its first appearance in campus life the week before Thanksgiving break by offering mini lessons in 10 South Asian languages as part of International Education Week. Now, it was asking to be recognized as an official club. Three Desi Club representatives appeared before the Senate to explain the purpose of the club and pitch ideas for future events. They said “desi” is an umbrella term for South Asian cultures, meaning “indigenous.” As such, the club’s constitution states it represents the cultures of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan. 

Representatives pitched four events. First was a henna workshop to introduce students to the art of using a natural dye to decorate one’s skin. Next were a desi prom and a rangoli competition. Rangoli is an art form in which people create patterns on tables or floors using dyes, flour, sand, rocks, flower petals and rice. The last event pitched was a Bollywood movie night — a night to enjoy desi film. 

The club’s representatives said they are open to collaborating with other clubs for their cultural events to allow for the fusion of cultures, such as Club International. 

“It’s nice to have it all together,” Desi Club Vice President Arshita Pandey said. “That just makes it more fun, honestly.”

The club was unanimously approved for provisional status and will hold its first meeting Dec. 7.

Following the Desi club was the club Nepalese at Plattsburgh. As a club, Nepalese at Plattsburgh aims to provide a “safe haven” for Nepali students at Plattsburgh and share Nepal’s history and diverse cultures with anyone interested, Club Vice President Palden Sherpa said. The club representatives said the club had 11 members, but more than 30 students indicated interest in joining.

“We want to show people that we are so much more than Mt. Everest,” Sherpa said.

Dispute arose surrounding the need for a club dedicated to Nepali culture when the Desi club claimed to represent Nepali culture as part of the “desi” umbrella term. Sherpa emphasized Nepal’s cultural and religious diversity and said a club dedicated to Nepali culture would be able to better showcase non-desi events. Senator Nilay Vaidya stepped in saying “desi” is a term predominantly used to indicate one’s South Asian origin in Western contexts. Vaidya also noted the existence of other clubs dedicated to a single country’s culture, such as the Japanese Cultural Association at Plattsburgh.

“We must also recognize Nepal is a separate country and ethnicity, so I think it is appropriate,” Vaidya said.

Club representatives said they believe it is possible to keep the momentum of a cultural club strong because students from Nepal arrive in Plattsburgh each semester, answering Senator Muscaan Patel’s concern for the club’s ability to sustain itself over time. 

After some discussion, the club was unanimously approved. It will hold its first meeting Dec. 6.

The largest portion of the $3,571 total was a sum of $2,170 for the Muslim Student Association to host its Arabian Nights event scheduled for Dec. 9. The funding would go to catering, lighting and sound, traditional Arab clothing for guests to try on and decorations. Additionally there will be carpets and pillows for attendees to sit on, as is customary in Arab culture, MSA Public Relations Chair Sidiya Faye said. Other activities showcasing Arab culture are games and presentations.

Senator William Donlon expressed concern for the timing of the event, to fall on the Friday before Finals Week.

“Why did you plan it on exams week, dude?” Donlon said. “I’m not going to go because I’m going to have to study for exams.”

Senator Aissatou Lo argued the event would be a way for students to relieve stress before Finals Week. Faye also said an event hosted at a similar date last year saw almost double the anticipated attendance. The funding was unanimously approved.

Next in size was a sum of $1,326 for African Unity’s annual Ubunye event dedicated to showcasing African cultures held tomorrow night. “Ubunye” is a Zulu word meaning “unity.” This year, the theme is “wedding party,” featuring a fake wedding performed, paired with singing, dancing and games. The funding, to go toward food, sound and lighting and a photo booth, was unanimously approved.

Lastly, the SA approved $75 for the club CEO — the Plattsburgh chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization — to provide cookies at its business model poster competition event Nov. 17. CEO would not be able to pay Chartwells for catering in advance because SA funds become available to clubs days after their approval and the event was scheduled for the next day. CEO President Vladamiere Perry said Chartwells understood the club’s situation and agreed to cater for them anyway. He also said CEO Adviser Nancy Church would take care of the cost regardless of whether the SA approved the funding.

The club originally requested an additional $100 for gift cards for the competition judges, but Perry said the matter was taken care of. Perry said the club procured the $500 prize given to the top three participants through SUNY Plattsburgh’s School of Business and Economics.

At the same meeting, CEO was unanimously granted permanent status due to its activity displayed through multiple events and consistent meetings starting last semester.

In other Senate news, Laraib Asim was approved as a Finance Board Voting Member in a unanimous vote.

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