As Yazmin Sanchez walks into the senate chambers for her area council’s meeting every Friday afternoon, she knows exactly what to expect: friends, food and a little discussion.
Sanchez is part of the Hispanic Area Council, one of four student-run organizations the Multicultural Student Center houses that serve to address the needs and concerns for minority groups on campus.
“At HAC, we appeal to Hispanics from all countries,” Sanchez said. “But really, anyone can join.”
Originally an initiative to attract minority students to the university, the area councils have developed into havens for minority students who seek people who share at least some of their cultural traits.
The four minority groups represented through the area councils are American Indians, Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders. Each area council has a student senator who participates in senate meetings, as well as acts as head for the respective councils.
“We don’t just sit around and talk at the meetings,” said Belia Alvarado, the HAC senator. “We try to talk about really important stuff.”
Alvarado stressed the importance of having meetings with council members, because it helps her to know what students want from the council.
“That way, we don’t just do things we like, and everyone can participate,” she said.
One of the main functions of the area clubs is to create activities and events that are cultural in nature. Over the years, the clubs, along with the Multicultural Student Center, have put together activities that have been widely attended by students who are not part of minority groups.
The Pow Wow contest, El Dia de Los Muertos celebrations and activities from other area councils are popular enough to keep bringing students back every year.
Irma Hernandez, also a member of HAC, said she feels the purpose of such activities is to show students at WSU the diversity on campus.
“There’s a lot of people from a lot of places here,” Hernandez said. “The activities let people know we are here.”
An innovative way for council senators to keep in touch with their students is via text. Students can text their council’s respective short code to a number and get updates about upcoming events.
Hernandez, a senior at WSU majoring in Spanish, said the activities and events aren’t limited to the campus. She mentioned a golf tournament the Ogden Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has put together for HAC members to attend.
From magnets for minority residents of the community to senate seat-holders, the area councils have become full-fledged organizations that serve hundreds of students. For Alvarado, the thought is a little daunting.
“It’s scary to be in charge sometimes, because you don’t know if people like what you are doing,” she said. “But it’s nice to hear people are enjoying what you come up with now and then.”
Correction: Convocations — an arm of the Weber State University Student Association — made the arrangements for Jewish-Reggae sensation Matisyahu to speak and perform on campus Sept 22. The story, Council supports diversity, incorrectly stated the Multicultural Student Center was responsible for scheduling Matisyahu.