On the evening of Feb. 26, Chamberlain Student Center was filled with the delicious aroma of soul food as students from all backgrounds came together to celebrate African American culture through food, games and music.
The event was hosted by the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion, and Conflict Resolution and was put together by the Assistant Director of SJICR, Dominique Pierson. The Men of Color Alliance (MOCA) also played a significant role in the success of the event, distributing the soul food.
Pierson worked tirelessly with the MOCA to organize the menu. The menu included classics like macaroni and cheese, collard greens and fried chicken.
“We hosted the Soul Food event on the last Sunday of Black History Month. We wanted to bring the Black culture experience to Rowan,” said Adonis Mcgee, a senior at Rowan and a member of MOCA who helped out at the event.
Aside from the delicious food, the event also provided students with the opportunity to participate in board games and other activities. Many were seen laughing and joking with friends, while others struck up conversations with new acquaintances. It was clear that the event had created a sense of community and togetherness that is often missing in many predominantly white campuses like Rowan.
A raffle was also held during the event, giving a few lucky attendees the chance to win different prizes. From a basket of hair products to a flat-screen TV, the prizes were all unique and worth it. The excitement was palpable as the winners were announced, with many cheering and clapping in support of their fellow students.
For BIPOC students, the event provided a much-needed space to come together and share their culture with others. In a predominantly white institution, it can be challenging for students of color to feel seen and heard. Students of color sometimes feel isolated and don’t know where they can find spaces to be around others that look like them.
“We foster an environment that allows that process of identity development, student leadership, and to feel comfortable no matter where you are from, but especially our students of color,” Pierson said. “From this event in particular, it is absolutely a celebration of our black and brown students who celebrate Black History Month who hold events like this especially meaningful to their culture and tradition.”
“Soul Food Sunday” provided an opportunity for students of color to feel seen and celebrated, and for their peers to learn more about their culture. According to Pierson, the idea for the event came from Rowan alumni and a member of MOCA who expressed to her the importance of an event that celebrates Black joy.
The event was open to all students, regardless of race or ethnicity, and it was heartening to see so many non-BIPOC students in attendance. Many came with an open mind and a willingness to learn, which created a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. One man came with his one-year-old son and shared a board game that he had brought from home — teaching some of the attendees how to play.
“You come to our program and it’s a first for something, you’ve learned about a new culture,” Pierson said. “These are things that are part of our culture and tradition so they are just really important to me… our number one model this year is that no one belongs here more than you, I tell students that on a daily basis, I also mean it wholeheartedly and so does everyone who works in our office. We always want students to feel valued here at Rowan.”
Overall, “Soul Food Sunday” was a success. The Chamberlain Student Center was packed with students enjoying each other’s company, playing games, and of course, eating some delicious food. It was a reminder of the importance of diversity and the value of different perspectives and experiences.
The Office of SJICR plays an essential role on campus, creating a safe and welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds, dedicated to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. Events like “Soul Food Sunday” are just one example of their commitment to these values. SJICR and MOCA should be commended for putting on such a fantastic event, and students should look forward to seeing what they have in store for the future.
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