The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Chatham University students find close community through diverse cultural student organizations

Members of the Asian Student Alliance at an event.

Chatham University is historically a predominantly white institution. According to the University website, just over 16% of students are minorities, and about 3% are international students. While the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) works to support students of color on campus, student-led cultural clubs have close interactions with students and regularly provide safe spaces. 

Currently, the cultural clubs that operate at Chatham are the Black Student Union (BSU), the Latine Student Association (LSA) and the Asian Student Association (ASA). Some members of these clubs have strong feelings about the diversity and inclusion efforts happening at Chatham. 

Danaeshia Cuff ‘26, vice president of the BSU, explains that the group brings together the Black community on campus to host events and give Black students a space on campus.

“I felt very alone on campus before I got into the BSU so I think it helped me gain a sense of belonging I was missing that first year, or at least the first semester, because they didn’t have as many events,” Cuff said.

Esteban Maldonado ‘23, co-president of the LSA, shares similar feelings of belonging as a result of the student group. He hopes to build a stronger community and interact with other Latine-focused groups at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

“As a student, [LSA] helps me feel seen. It makes me feel like I have a voice [at] a predominantly white institution. That has a lot of baggage to it, especially because I transferred from the University of North Carolina which had the most Hispanic students in that state … so coming here was very much a shock,” Maldonado said. “But the LSA has given us a chance … to create a sort of safe space on campus—an area where we can talk to those with a similar background to us.”

Maldonado said that the group works to shine a spotlight on the Latine community. He felt that few events highlighting the Latine community took place on campus outside of Latin Heritage Month, and the LSA had to take matters into its own hands. The LSA is having a second annual Salsa Night in October, as well as other events later in the year.

Komalpreet Kaur ‘24, secretary of the ASA, said the Alliance promotes Asian culture and identity on campus. It aims to host one to two events each month. Kaur expresses her excitement for the first event ASA will be running, the boba run, where students go off-campus to get boba. Kaur said that past events have coincided with celebrations such as Lunar New Year, Holi and Diwali.

Kaur also speaks about isolation on Chatham’s campus without the ASA. 

“I’m a commuter student. Prior to going to this club I didn’t really have any way to meet other South Asian or Asian students in general and that was really isolating,” she said. “So being a part of this club since it’s been revived, as of almost two years ago, has really given me the opportunity to bond with people and feel generally less alone and isolated on campus.”

Kaur looks forward to getting new students to be ASA members so they do not have to experience the same isolation she did.

Cuff shares that it can sometimes be difficult for students of color on campus to feel respected by other students, staff and faculty.

“I’ve struggled with white people coming to our events and taking our stuff and imposing on our spaces. … If we [have] events that we want other people to come to we [will] say it,” Cuff said. “The fact that [events] keep getting imposed upon is a big thing. … Why aren’t we allowed to have our space, build those connections when everyone else is allowed to?” 

Kaur adds that there is a lot of pressure placed on students of color at primarily white institutions.

“In most of my classrooms, I’m the only of one or two students of color in the class. There is a big burden to be there and represent those missing perspectives and that is a lot.”

As Chatham undergoes institutional reorganization, group leaders reflect on how the University can do better for its students of color.

“Giving the students the space to actually belong with each other and giving us a space where, I hate to say it, where we don’t have to interact with people that don’t like us. There are some white students that generally don’t want to be around us,” Cuff said. “They just need to start giving us the resources to have our space and be with ourselves.” 

Maldonado stresses the importance of budget support from the administration and ODEI to empower the student body. Kaur adds that the University should prioritize putting more diverse faces in higher positions. 

The BSU, LSA and ASA all have upcoming involvement opportunities for students to be on the lookout for this year. To keep up with these events, check out the Happenings page on

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Communiqué Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *