By Daniel Ynfante
Asst. Sports Editor
Behind every organization, club or association, there was a specific event or a moment of brilliance that ignited that proverbial light bulb in its founders’ head and convinced them they had to create it.
For Ivan Bohórquez, it was a series of unfortunate events that led him to start Fuerza Latina, a student club at Manhattan College that tackles the issues of diversity, with a special emphasis towards the Hispanic population.
In the spring semester of 2014, Bohórquez sat down and thought about all the extracurricular activities he had joined at Manhattan College and how he felt he still was not a part of the school’s community.
To make matters worse, Bohórquez felt the school’s Hispanic population needed representation.
So he gathered a team of students and together, created Fuerza Latina, with the hope that they could promote diversity on campus.
One of those students Bohórquez recruited, Aleysha Taveras, vice president of Fuerza Latina, saw the opportunity to join the club as one of a kind.
“It just offered an avenue that was different,” Taveras said. “Nothing like this had been created before and it specifically speaks to things that we enjoy.”
In its brief one-year existence, Fuerza Latina has made the impact Bohórquez dreamed it would make when he created the club.
Already with close to 50 members, Fuerza Latina has organized various events including dances and community service, which has garnered the attention of several faculty members at Manhattan College.
The club has had such popularity and impact on campus that Bohórquez and Taveras were invited to speak at the racial justice teach-in held on campus on Feb. 4.
At the teach-in, Bohórquez and Taveras discussed diversity, an issue they both have strong opinions on.
“It’s definitely a problem because we’re in New York City,” Bohórquez said, “the biggest melting pot in the world and we’re lacking programs that promote diversity. People think that diversity means minorities when in fact it refers to everybody because no two people are the same. It’s all about appreciating the differences.”
Although Bohórquez is a proponent of highlighting all the cultural club’s differences, one of his main goals for this semester is creating a committee in which all of the presidents and vice presidents of the clubs can unite and exchange ideas.
It is an idea he has ran by his board, including Daniela Heras, vice president of communications.
“At the end of the day,” Heras said, “yea we’re mostly Latino-based, there are Asian and Muslim communities, but we’re all trying to promote the same thing at the end of the day. There are certain things like certain holidays we’re trying to promote, certain things they’re trying to promote, but at the end of the day it’s all diversity and community.”
In addition, Bohórquez also plans to create a section of Fuerza Latina that will deal with Hispanic women’s experiences and issues and will be headed by Taveras
Bohórquez has big plans for his club, but it is something he set out to do from the start.
Muslim Student Association
By Daniel Ynfante
Asst. Sports Editor
Very few things in the world are as mesmerizing and as captivating as people praying in unison.
Islam, a religion that emphasizes prayer and produces perhaps some of the most wonderful scenes when people gather to pray in Mecca, is no exception.
At Manhattan College, Harris Ali, president of the Muslim Student Association, likes to think that there is nothing more beautiful than seeing the diverse group of students in the association gathered to pray.
“When we stand for prayer it’s really like marvelous,” Ali said. “When you see everyone like Albanians, Bengalis, Pakistanis, Syrians, they’re all standing in one line as if we’re one team, you know. We’re together.”
The messages of togetherness and camaraderie are what Ali plans to stress during his tenure as president.
“We never want to exclude anyone,” Ali said. “We always want to open our doors and let people in always to, you know, dissipate the misunderstandings, the confusions, like Islam and terrorism.”
Ali enters his first semester as leader of an association that has had a chapter at Manhattan College for several years and has been in place in most colleges in the United States as well.
At Manhattan, the Muslim Student Association holds weekly prayers called jummah, organizes meetings to speak about student’s daily lives and problems as Muslims and organizes events in conjunction with other cultural clubs on campus that promote diversity.
Sticking with the idea of togetherness, Ali plans on working with the other cultural clubs on campus, citing the possibility of doing fundraisers together and organizing even more events.
Like the members of Fuerza Latina, Ali is not opposed to the idea of starting a committee where all the heads of the clubs meet to discuss the issues they face.
“I understand a committee where people can come,” Ali said. “The clubs bring their ideas to the table, how they can make the school better and the community better for the students. I think that would be a great, great idea.”
The creation of a committee, along with working together with the other clubs remain at the top of Ali’s list of goals for this semester, but more importantly for Ali, he wants to expand.
“We don’t want anyone to think that we’re closed,” Ali said. “That there’s secret meetings or something going on. That’s why everything is out in the open. We welcome everybody to come and spread the love.”
By Daniel Molina
In the context of searching for international clubs around the campus one may come to know Anthony Scotti, president of the Il Circolo Dante Alighieri Italian Club.
The club currently has 60 members and the group’s main goal is to pomote the Italian culture among those interested on it. Pizza, pasta, discussions and trips to Little Italy are the most popular activities the club promotes to students.
“One of our main goals is to get rid of the stereotypes people has about our culture,” Scotti said. “Italy has always been more than good food and music.”
Various topics are discussed in their monthly meeting, where they talk about projects and future ideas for the club. Last semester they had 7 events, including the trips to the Feast of San Gennaro down in Mulberry Street, or movie screenings, including films such as Cinema Paradiso from the Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore.
Scotti also shared with us that the club is open to everyone in Manhattan College, not only for Italians or students of Italian descent.
Martina Caretta is a freshman student from Italy and is involved in the club, which she found eased her transition to living away from home.
“I thought it would be harder the transition from high school to college,” she said. “It was a new country, a new language and without knowing a person. I actually feels like home right now.”
“Diversity is what makes a culture rich, and being able to keeping mine alive is a great feeling,” Scotti said.
LGBT Friends and Allies
By Claire Leaden
Senior Staff Writer
Though the college’s LGBT Friends and Allies club was only officially approved this past October, it has had a growing presence on campus for the last few years. Current president Ivan Rios started getting things moving early last year at a time when he didn’t feel he had many places to turn.
“Personally something had happened to me, so I was looking for some kind of club with people who were going through something similar to what I was going through,” he said. “But there were no clubs. There was nothing on the campus.”
The club had actually existed at MC before, but its presence had been fading. Rios spoke with friend and Horan Resident Director Stephanie Brooks and she helped him start the process of making it an official campus club.
“We have the counseling center but I wasn’t looking for that. I didn’t want to talk one-on-one with an adult. I wanted people my age to talk about my experiences with,” he said. “That’s how it kind of started.”
Rios said the club functions as a support group for LGBT members on campus, a place where they can “talk about how [they] feel with people [their] own age who have the same experiences.” Also, as the club’s name states, friends, allies and supporters are welcome to join as well.
In fact, Rios said that future plans involve bringing all different kinds of people to the club, not only the LGBT community. This entails a possible sex education class, though they have to speak with the dean and other school officials first, and volunteer-based events. He has been working with the school’s coordinator of community service, Kathleen Von Euw, in trying to make that happen.
Currently the club is made up of many LGBT members but also a lot of allies, and is very diverse in terms of major.
Rios can attest from personal experience and from friends that the club is serving a very important purpose on campus.
“I had a couple other friends going through the same experience, and then the club was there,” he explained. “I think it’s just important to be represented so personally I feel like I have somewhere to go and someone to turn to. So people can know, even if they don’t go to the meetings, there’s support here.”
South Asian Student Association
By Claire Leaden
Senior Staff Writer
Saif Kaleem, president of the new South Asian Student Association, said that food has been a main factor in word spreading through campus about the club.
“People have been saying they love Indian food,” he said, grinning. “So there’s a lot of interest in that.”
In fact, one of the club’s first events was an ice cream social with kulfi, a traditional South Asian ice cream. Though the leaders have lots of future plans, the South Asian Student Association was only just established last semester as well.
Kaleem, who is a sophomore, said the idea for the association was first thrown around by a few seniors during his freshman year.
“These two seniors were walking around campus their spring semester and just saw a huge number of diverse people, and what they specifically noticed was that there was a significant population of Indian, Pakistani, Bengali students, which makes up the South Asian culture,” he explained.
By the time the seniors went to student government to form a club it was too late, as they were graduating, so they asked Kaleem to take over. He got involved in student government this past fall and started up the association with a few other students who also noticed the growing South Asian presence on campus and felt it should be represented.
“We started the association to bring a community together and show our culture on campus,” he said. “We’ve held a few events that have gotten a big turnout. There’s been a lot of interest. People what to learn more about it in terms of food, music, tradition.”
The club’s first event was a movie night featuring voted-on hits from Bollywood, the largest movie industry in the world based in India. In addition to the movie nights and ice cream social, the leaders plan on holding a South Asian formal, complete with traditional clothing, dance performances, and Indian and Pakistani food of course.
“I want the club to establish a community with the South Asian students as well as bring that South Asian culture to Manhattan and let everyone—whether you’re South Asian or not—be a part of it and experience our culture as we’re experiencing Manhattan culture,” he said.
“I think it’s very important that South Asian students have a community to go to if they feel that they don’t fit in—that’s one way of looking at it. They can say ‘there’s a group here that I can relate to.’”