By Miguel Gonzalez
While cool air blew through the trees and a soft drizzle came down at the College, students radiated warm energy in the Decker Social Space at the For the Culture Cookout on Saturday, Sept. 8.
The event was hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Pride Mentoring program.
Several cultural organizations, including Alpha Phi Alpha, the Haitian Student Association, the Black Student Union and the College’s NAACP chapter sought to showcase the College’s ethnic diversity while offering food and entertainment.
Anisa Douglas, a junior elementary and early childhood education and psychology double major, was excited to represent her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta.
“We’re here to represent the multicultural organizations on campus, especially for freshmen,” Douglas said. “It’s nice to be here to eat food, dance and enjoy music while promoting our organization.”
Meanwhile, students like sophomore accounting major Antonio Gamboa wanted to spread the messages and goals of their respective organizations. As a member of the National Association of Black Accountants, Gamboa emphasized inclusivity.
“As a new club on campus, we want to welcome everyone — not just what our name implies,” Gamboa said. “Half of our e-board aren’t finance majors. We strive to give opportunities to network with professionals. It’s all for the betterment of TCNJ.”
Don Trahan Jr., the director of the College’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, was delighted to see a significant turnout for the cookout.
“We thought it was important to come together so all of you would have an opportunity to engage and celebrate with each other and have fun,” Trahan said.
Students were served hot Jamaican food such as brown rice with beans, steamed cabbage and savory jerk chicken.
Once their stomachs filled up, students took to the center of the Social Space for some energetic, lively dancing to songs such as Beyonce’s “Love on Top” and Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie.” The Social Space only got hotter when DJ Taj’s “Work” (Jersey Club remix) rang through the air and inspired students to demonstrate their signature dance moves.
By the end of the event, students were better informed of the numerous diverse groups on campus.
“This event was for exposing our culture to the community,” said Gibson Val, a sophomore computer science major and publicity chair of the Haitian Student Association. “Not only were we providing food and music, we also provided students to a chance to know about diversity and different ethnic groups.”