Caribbean Student Association receives club status

Executive President of SGA Olaniyi Solebo questioned the Caribbean Student Association. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

After some dissent, the Student Government Association granted club status to the Caribbean Student Association during last week’s general body meeting. Sophomore open options major Danique Robinson is president of the 57-member organization.

“The Caribbean Student Association is for anyone on campus of Caribbean descent or who identifies as Caribbean, so we have a place to express ourselves in terms of our culture,” Robinson said. “We’d like to bring attention to the issues affecting Caribbean nations … We have a culture that is very close and fosters a familial atmosphere. We struggle together.”

The organization hopes to assist the College’s Here for Haiti campaign and host campus-wide cultural events.

“We’re trying to bring more of the Caribbean culture to (the College),” sophomore nursing major Tanya Green said. “That could include food (events), and we’re thinking of trips.”

Green mentioned a possible trip to New York City’s West Indian American Day Parade in September, an annual event that celebrates Caribbean culture.

Several SGA members expressed concern that the Caribbean Student Association looked to serve a niche already filled by the Black Student Union and Haitian Student Association. Robinson addressed these concerns when describing another of the club’s missions.

“We’d like to bring to the table that (the Caribbean) is not just Haiti,” she said. “There are more islands … and there are different languages spoken as well.”

Some SGA members remained unconvinced.

“You don’t need a pocket organization to serve each sect,” said Olaniyi Solebo, junior political science major and SGA executive president, who questioned the organization’s distinction from existing clubs and its ability to last.

Others advocated for the club.

“We need to make sure each group has a safe haven-type of organization and a place to express their culture,” said Lynette Barnes, senior psychology and women’s and gender studies double major and vice president of Equity and Diversity. “The more, the merrier.”

Still others defended the organization’s ties to existing clubs, citing these ties as a factor that would encourage, not discourage, longevity.

“If you have a sister organization or a brother organization, or as we call them here, an umbrella organization, you are more likely to prosper at (the College),” said Randi Lynn Veenstra, junior history major and alternate student trustee.

Caribbean Student Association passed by majority vote.

Also during last week’s SGA meeting, senior political science major and vice president of Legal and Governmental Affairs Brian Block introduced the committee’s “Tell It Like It Is” lobbying campaign. This challenges students to share personal stories about how they’ve been affected by the state budget cuts that impacted the College last year. The committee hopes to use these stories to lobby to the New Jersey State Government for state budget reform.

“We want to hear a lot about the students and what they have to say … anything with facilities they think isn’t being done (as a result of the cuts),” Block said. Students can e-mail sga@tcnj.edu or any Legal and Governmental Affairs committee member with their stories.

Senior journalism major and Signal web editor Cameron Prince warned students of Campus Police plans to start writing citations for students who don’t stop for pedestrians at the College, according to Campus Police Chief John Collins. Prince learned this while attending a Facilities and Construction Planning Council meeting on behalf of the SGA.

“I know at least one person in this room has been stopped for not yielding to pedestrians,” Prince said. “They haven’t given any citations yet, but they’re going to start.”

Emily Brill can be reached at brill3@tcnj.edu.