I have often felt a little envious when I see groups of students gathering at various places around campus. I’ve made friends at PSU, but living off-campus has made it more difficult to find students to hang with outside of the classroom. But when I see a group of Muslim women lunching together or a cluster of Latino students hanging out in the library, I wonder where I went wrong in finding like-minded students I could form friendships with outside of the classroom.
I told my classmate Jamaica Young about my ethnic group envy, and she suggested that ethnic students seek formal groups as a way to help them integrate into the school. She mentioned the Multicultural Center (MCC) (http://www.pdx.edu/mcc/) where many students gather either formally or informally. I decided to check out the MCC in hopes they could help me understand how these groups get started.
It turns out the MCC is a rather large gathering place for already-formed groups to hold events. The MCC directed me to the Mezzanine Level in the SmithBuildingwhere the center of the Student Activities and Leadership Program (SALP) is located (http://web.pdx.edu/~salp/salp_saga/index.php). Entering the SALP headquarters was like entering a new world, and I couldn’t believe this was my first time on this floor in my four years at PSU. In every direction are small rooms representing groups on campus such as the Student Veterans Association, the Vietnamese Student Association, and the Pacific Islander’s Club. I could hear laughter coming from every corner of the great room, and I sensed a feeling of belonging.
Have you ever visited SALP or the mezzanine level at Smith? If not, I strongly suggest you go check it out, join or start a group, make some new friends, and find out how you can be more connected at PSU than I was.