Creating community: Five fierce clubs.

By The Beacon | September 4, 2014 2:29am
Alexandra Bush|THE BEACON




By Maraya Sullivan

With over 100 extra-curricular and co-curricular clubs trying to recruit freshmen, the Activities Fair was an animalistic zoo last Friday evening in the Academic Quad. With so many choices, we wanted to highlight five fierce finds for you.

NAAC: Native American Appreciation Club If watching Pocahontas paint with all the colors of the wind is the closest you’ve come to Native American culture, you’re missing out. Portland carries the blood of up to 380 tribes, making us home to the 9th largest Native American population in the U.S. If you’re craving an earthy culture shock paired with majestic powwows, join the Native American Appreciation Club. “Joining this club is a huge gateway and bridge to understanding the Native American community,” Kevin Chung, a junior English and German major, said. Considering the current lack of connection between UP and the Native American community, powwows are a unique way to bring these two communities together through dancing and singing. This spring will mark the 4th year that UP will host a powwow in the Chiles Center. “The NAAC is open to anyone,” Chung said. “It is all about appreciating where we are living.”

BSU: Black Student Union Tripling in size since last year, the Black Student Union has become an inspirational vortex on campus. “You don’t have to be black to join, you just have to be a person that wants to love everybody,” said senior economics major Kahlil Dumas, who currently serves as the BSU co-president with two other students. BSU panels have moved students to tears, dispelled ignorance and encouraged others to discuss racial issues. Considering recent controversial racial debates in the world, it is crucial to establish a sense of community through dialogue. “It’s a community thing, that’s what we feel like America has lost…that sense of community,” Dumas said. Taking into account that black students make up less than 1 percent of the student body, it’s unsurprising that when Dumas first came to UP, there weren’t a lot of black people on campus. “A big mistake people make when they see BSU, is, ‘Oh, that’s just a big congregate of black people,’” Dumas said. “In reality, it is a group of students who are passionate about discussing racial issues and current events while having a good time.”

FDG: Feminist Discussion Group Imagine a meeting where the main topic up for discussion is Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMAs. Then, imagine analyzing and discussing whether or not this phenomenon is sex positive, body positive, or problematic. FDG looks at such issues seriously, but laughs about them too. Sophomore President of FDG and Social Work and English major Hannah Vogel, openly shared, “I was a victim of sexual assault. After I realized how big of an issue it is, or how prevalent it is in our culture, I definitely wanted to form solidarity with other women and be apart of a community that isn’t afraid to speak out to people who don’t have the voice to.” The group is not for females only. “Gender equality is one of the staples of feminism, and that is necessary for both men and women to coexist,” Vogel said.

SDU: Speech and Debate Union “I think therefore I am,” or more like: “You speak, therefore you are,” according to Dr. Lattin, who’s coached UP’s Speech and Debate team for the past 17 years. Considering most conflicts occur due to miscommunication, critical listening skills are key. “You must listen to the other person's side of the issue,” Lattin said. “That’s good for interpersonal relationships, government and business. ” Regardless of whether you’re trying to convince your partner to get a pet, or trying to get a promotion, you need to be persuasive and polite in the public sphere. Senior and current SDU president Katie Wilson said the SDU aims to teach students “how to be aggressive and assertive in a polite and professional manner.” Last year, ten SDU member’s pushed through to the national competition in Indianapolis where they faced up to 600 competitors, and up to 1,000 audience members. Eight SDU members took home medals, proving that UP contains some of the best debaters and speakers in the country. Wilson and Elizabeth Hartley, who have both placed 6th in Nationals and both have served as president were representing SDU at the activities fair. “It’s 60 percent fun and 40 percent work,” Hartley said. “We eat a lot, and it feels like family because we help each other in debate and in life.” Additionally, SDU volunteers their time at a speech and debate team in Lake Oswego. This year the group is preparing to place more emphasis on giving back via soup kitchen work and homeless shelters. “It bonds our team,” Wilson said.

FASA: Filipino American Student Association Established in 2012, UP’s FASA promises a fun and welcoming environment with volunteer opportunities. Seniors James Rehwald and Krystina Duvall were caught dancing a traditional Filipino dance with Tinikling sticks during the Fair. Panting and smiling, they said UP is the only member of 16 Northwest FASA colleges that has yet to host a meeting. “We are hoping to host one in September,” Rehwald said. Both Duvall and Rehwald became involved with the club because their Filipino heritage. “It’s hard to stay in touch with people who have similar values and interests,” Duvall said. “Everyone can join, learn about the culture and try our food.” In November, FASA is hoping to host a food fusion event, where they will concoct cultural food hybrids such as sushi burritos. Additionally, the group is looking to build stronger ties with the Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines. “We are a diverse club - non-Filipinos and Filipinos alike - just trying to spread the love and fun of Filipino culture,” Rehwald said.

Maraya Sullivan is a reporter for The Beacon. You can reach her at