Community building initiatives

By Yollette Merritt
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Photo of Active Minds club officers (left to right): Madilynn Turner – President, Selena Velasquez – Vice President, Jessica Hernandez – Treasurer, Rebecca Murrell – Secretary. Photo by Gloria Kowall.

Among the 106 clubs available at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) for student participation – academic, Greek, sports, dance and music groups – there are clubs and organizations with a mission to strengthen the well-being and sense of community for all within the CSUMB family including students, faculty and staff.

Student Engagement & Leadership Development (SALD) has as its mission to serve “as a catalyst in the development of a dynamic and diverse university community that facilitates intentional student engagement opportunities locally, regionally and nationally.” Revamped in the fall of 2017, SALD includes not only the clubs, but also Associated Students, the Catalyst Center, First Year Experience, Greek Life and Leadership Development & Traditions.

Associated Students (AS) is in place “to serve, empower and represent students in all areas of student concern.” Among its many offerings is the AS Capstone Grant that assists full time students by reimbursing a portion of their capstone expenses. Activities offered without charge include the monthly interactions with students, staff and faculty via an art medium called “Paints and Predicaments!” and the weekly Zumba Mondays and Cardio Kick Thursdays.

The Students Awareness for Disability Empowerment (SADE) Club encourages networking opportunities and promotes support groups for people with, as well as without, disabilities.

Active Minds Club – part of a national college and university network started as a club in 2003 at the University of Pennsylvania – empowers students to change the perception of mental health, reduce personal and public stigma and encourage help seeking. The club meets bi-weekly on campus and invites all interested to participate. “We value serving CSUMB because we want to be there as a resource to our peers, stated Selena Velasquez, club vice-president. In addition to decreasing the stigma around mental health, one of our primary goals is increasing students’ awareness of and abilities in taking care of their mental health. Through de-stressing and educational events, we aim to make a positive and long-lasting impact on the well-being of our community members here at CSUMB.”

The Family Friendly CSUMB Club, designed for “all who want to make CSUMB more inclusive and family-friendly,” is an initiative with meetings and events already underway and whose mission is “to create an environment that gives a sense of belonging to all forms of families and individuals from all walks of life…to recognize the unique needs of each individual as well as collaborating as a community.”

This community building initiative is the brainchild of Heather Wiley, graduating senior and Social and Behavioral Science major with a concentration in Anthropology. “As a past Resident Assistant for first year students, I’ve seen first-hand there are many who are lonely and/or missing their families and could benefit from that extra connection and friendly support,” stated Marley Forsyth, fifth year Psychology major with a minor in Human Communications.

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