Graphic Design Editor
Walk across any campus, drive through any city, or fly to any foreign country and chances are there will be a population of diversified ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations and lifestyles. This diverse populous of human life, which is sometimes feared or rejected by others, is something that the Student Society for Bridging Diversity (SSBD) club at Springfield College promotes to students in a positive, accepting light.
The club, which was originally called the African American Club back in the ‘80s, has evolved into a group that is much more inclusive and seeks to remind students and faculty that there is only one race: the human race.
The name of the club has undergone other name changes, as it was previously titled the Minority Student Affairs and then the Student Society for Cultural Diversity. Two years ago, it was renamed to its current status as the Student Society for Bridging Diversity.
Club president Loan Pham, currently a junior, explained the rationale behind changing the name.
“We thought bridging diversity was a little bit better because it’s well beyond culture. We’re about roots, different opinions and different areas of interest, so we changed it to that.”
In terms of programming, SSBD plans and organizes many different events throughout the school year. They are the ones who co-host (with YMCA Club) the popular Thanksgiving Throwdown dance in Judd Gymnasium, which is also the club’s largest fundraiser. In addition, they schedule guest speakers, fashion shows and barbecues.
Last year, the club traveled to Philadelphia to visit cultural museums to further sharpen their understanding of the importance of diversity. This year, they will be traveling to New York City in the spring.
SSBD’s mission is one that reflects the mission of the Multicultural Affairs office at Springfield College. John Wilson, who is the club’s adviser and director of the Multicultural Affairs office, remarked about their mission and goals.
“Its mission is to reach out to all students on campus regardless of ethnicity,” Wilson said. “All students are included in that effort. We are constantly trying to send that message across campus.”
“We try to open the minds of our members to other cultures and stereotypes,” Pham added. “We try to show them that everything isn’t true about racism and stereotypes.”
Pham noted that one of the major challenges that students face in situations where they have to interact with someone of a different ethnicity is striking up a conversation. For Pham, taking that first step is the most important part.
“Some people don’t know how to start up conversations. The first initial impression is hard to get over, but what we try to do is communicate that it’s not that hard to begin a conversation.”
SSBD has recently worked with student leaders from New Student Orientation, Pre-Camp and Residence Life in training sessions that gave them advice on how to embrace diversity and promote that message to others. For Wilson, it is a beneficial relationship not just for the clubs, but for all students.
“We have really crossed the bridge as far as working and interacting more with those clubs,” Wilson said. “We’re looking forward to next year where we can continue growing in that regard.”
Like many other clubs on campus, the Student Society for Bridging Diversity is a club that offers rewarding programs and activities for all students to engage in. They also allow for students to understand that we are all human regardless of differences in physical appearance and cultural lifestyles. They look forward to the future, and hope to expand their group size and provide even more programs on campus.
“One of our beliefs is to treat people the way you want to be treated yourself, and to help make the SC community a safe place for everybody,” Wilson said. “Reaching out to people of different sexual orientation and ethnic groups is what we strive for.”