Today: Jun 17, 2024

CASAS hosts ‘Culture Fest’

Brandon Cortés – General Reporter

Amidst the wave of students coming and going in and out of class at the Engleman Rotunda, the Center for Academic Success and Accessibility Services, CASAS, stood organizing a cultural festival for students to come and put up any phrase, sentence or word with which they feel identified. 

The university has a wide variety of cultures, religious beliefs, backgrounds, disabilities and ability statuses. The purpose of “Culture Fest” was to elevate, celebrate and empower all these different identities.  

“This will help to send a message that the university values each and every person,” said Associate Director of Accessibility Services Ted Donahue. “No matter what place you come from, what background you have, there is a place for you here.” 

Donahue says that a lot of places are not as diverse, so hosting events that help recognize these different cultural backgrounds is a big step forward into inclusivity. 

“We want people to feel welcome, respected, wanted and visible,” said Donahue. “So, this is an opportunity for people to express their identity, who they see themselves as and who they want people to know them as.” 

Transfer students make up a significant part of the university since many of them come from community colleges or even different universities. For Santi Arounsack-Colon, a junior transfer student from Housatonic Community College, it was a huge surprise for him to encounter an event like this for the first time in his academic life. 

“Events like this give you the stereotypical concept of what a four-year university life looks like,” said Arounsack-Colon. “There weren’t events like this back at Housatonic; all you did back there was come and go. There was no reason to stay any longer.” 

As a transfer student, Arounsack-Colon feels a sense of belonging at the university thanks to events like these. 

“Seeing the board with all those notes; every single note has something that characterizes the person who wrote it. It’s beautiful,” said Arounsack-Colon. “It makes me feel that I belong here.” 

At the event, a raffle was organized, providing students with the chance to win various items. Participants eagerly took part, with each ticket carrying the potential to reveal a range of prizes, from Amazon gift cards to interesting experiences. 

“Students have the opportunity to win an Amazon gift card or even some CASAS merch,” said Jenna Barccello, a graduate intern at CASAS. 

Barccello says that this event will most likely be limited and will not be repeated until next year, but that they will try to do similar events throughout the remainder of the fall semester. 

“This year at Southern, every week is themed,” said Barccello. “So, this week our office wanted to put together this little event. I’m not sure we’ll do it again until next year, but we have to wait and see what the future will hold.” 

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