Pepperdine’s cultural and identity clubs are home to underrepresented students of color on campus. Although there are 28 of these clubs on campus, students continue to call on Pepperdine to focus more attention on diversity and inclusion. While cultural clubs are extremely beneficial to the Pepperdine community, they are not receiving the acknowledgment they deserve.
Most of these clubs host events to highlight the most unique aspects of various cultures, such as the Indian Student Association’s annual Diwali celebration or the Hawai’i Club’s Annual Lū’au. These clubs also provide necessary cultural education on a campus that is predominately white.
Cultural clubs highlight the customs of certain cultures and introduce the community to experiences they are not accustomed to. Some clubs represent the cultures of international students, who may feel homesick and wish to engage with their roots.
Bhavya Patel, a junior from Ahmedabad, India, said the Indian Student Association aims to raise awareness of South Asian nationalities at Pepperdine.
“Being away from my country is hard for me during the year,” Patel said. “Even though there is not much diversity at Pepperdine, I have seen the great ways that these clubs uplift our cultures and make me feel at home with my own family.”
With racial divisions plaguing the U.S., it is imperative to understand the significance of other cultures and learn how to honor and respect their customs.
Seaver College’s fall 2019 statistics show white students account for 49% of the student population, whereas the other 51% consists of seven subdivisions of non-white students that each account for less than 15% of the student population. With a predominately white student population, students of color may feel isolated from their respective cultures due to the lack of representation on campus
In the light of the murders of George Floyd, Andres Guardado, Kenneth French, and many other instances of racially charged violence, it is important for Pepperdine to uplift cultural clubs that promote the notions of equality that people around the world are fighting for.
Racism is a significant issue at Pepperdine, as documented by the Instagram account @blackatpepperdine, which describes experienced and observed accounts of racial discrimination on campus. While cultural clubs cannot solve racism at Pepperdine, they can help foster a sense of community and appreciation for other students’ respective cultures.
Intercultural communication is the foundation of cultural clubs, and the Pepperdine administration must further embrace these cultures to help them achieve their goals. This can be accomplished by focusing more attention on these clubs, encouraging students to get involved with them and creating support systems centered around them. In addition, the administration should create more campus-wide events to promote different cultures.
Events such as the International Club Fair are normally a hotspot for cultural clubs to promote their culture across campus for a day. With the challenges that the Pepperdine community is facing this semester, cultural clubs are suffering.
In-person events are usually the primary way clubs showcase their vibrant customs and create connections between students and cultures. Due to COVID-19, these events are no longer able to take place, so clubs have resorted to hosting online Zoom meetings, Netflix parties and Discord servers.
Students can get involved with cultural clubs in many different ways. There are many other cultural clubs offered at Pepperdine that are open to all students. Following these clubs on Instagram is another great way to learn about a club’s respective culture and upcoming events.
Cultural clubs already had odds stacked against them when it came to promoting events on campus due to the disinterest from the white majority. Now that this semester is online, students and professors must help cultural clubs achieve their goals of promoting their culture.
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