School is back in session, meaning the 70+ student clubs and organizations are up and running, eagerly awaiting new members. On September 5, 2021, students could be seen preparing for the Multicultural Student Organization’s (MSO) first event of the academic year in the Bultman Student Center — offering good music, yummy snacks and a lively environment to welcome students back to campus.
MSOs aim to provide community to students of varying cultural and ethnic groups and anyone interested in learning more about these cultures. The MSO’s reach in offering resources and a voice to the student body is widely extended across campus. There are many of these groups; here are some of their goals and backstories:
Founded in 1996, the Asian Student Union has the mission of empowering and “establishing community for Asian and Asian American students.” They believe in creating a safe space to celebrate differences and share the varying perspectives of Hope’s students.
The Black Student Union is an organization with the aim to increase awareness of African American history throughout the campus and community. Their motto is: “Strength through Unity,” a phrase that has become increasingly known throughout the campus community.
Hope College has also been keen to offer support to those with disabilities, facilitating mentor groups, volunteer services and alternative accommodations to ensure everyone who wishes to can receive the full Hope experience. Hope Advocates for Invisible Conditions (HAIC) is one of the most extensively involved organizations, sponsoring events and hashtags in addition to their numerous help outreach programs and volunteer opportunities.
Officially introduced on campus two years ago, Prism is a fresh, new organization dedicated to offering “safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQ+ identifying individuals and their allies.” Prism openly welcomes new members throughout the year and uses their platform to host events and put out information with the goal of making Hope, and the greater Holland area, a safe and supportive community.
The Pan-African Student Association’s dedication is to provide knowledge about the “social, political, economic and cultural elements of Africa.” Open to all students, PASA also extends aid in academics to ensure their members are thriving not only in the community but in the classroom as well.
While at the MSO Ice Breaker Event, The Anchor had the opportunity to speak with the interim Vice President of the Latino Student Organization (LSO), Miguel Castelan (‘23), who was especially passionate about the organization’s mission and how it has affected him personally. Castelan has been a member of LSO since his freshman year and expressed his apprehension in coming to Hope, a predominantly white campus, as a Latinx student. As many others have experienced since joining an MSO, Castelan stated that through his organization, he was “able to find a place where he belonged” and hopes that joining an MSO will have the same impact on others’ experience at Hope as it did for him. He also spoke directly about the event, stating that it was essentially just a “big dance for incoming freshmen, students of color, and just anyone who was interested in learning more and getting involved.” Castelan believes the MSO Ice Breaker event provides a ‘bridge’ to students who may be considering joining LSO and its affiliates, giving them the opportunity to learn about the organization, meet new and current members, and have an enjoyable yet relaxing evening.
A thought also expressed by Castelan is that every MSO event is “open to all students, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, etc,” and that they are eager to accept new members throughout the year— so even if you missed out on the activities fair or the Ice Breaker event, there’s still time to join, as the common mission of each MSO is creating an informed and accepting environment for anyone and everyone. If you or anyone you know has any questions or is considering getting involved, you can learn more on Hope College’s Student Organizations page, or visit the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at the Keppel House.