On campus organizations and clubs are a great way to become involved at The New School! Most clubs offered are school-wide, which is also a great way to meet new people from different schools/divisions (i.e Eugene Lang, Jazz, etc.).
Many organizations at The New School offer safe spaces for minority groups, and SOAD (Students of the African Diaspora) is one of them. I chatted with the President of SOAD (and my roommate), Ayanna Heaven (Eugene Lang, ’14) about what the organization is, what they do, and their plans for the future.
Lauren Davis: For those who do not know, tell us a little about the history of SOAD and its mission.
Ayanna Heaven: Founded out of a previous group at The New School called Women of Color, the founders saw a need for a space for students of color to come together and have open discussions at the university. SOAD was created in 2009 and is a social justice organization here at The New School that promotes the exchange of knowledge about contemporary issues of the African diaspora through events and activism. We hope to provide a space where students who identify both inside and outside the African diaspora feel comfortable to exchange knowledge with one another.
LD: Diversity at The New School is definitely a popular subject. Why do you feel SOAD is important for The New School?
AH: SOAD is important at The New School to bring new light to issues that are often forgotten and not acknowledged. SOAD is also a place students can come together and feel comfortable speaking about difficulties they may be having in their classrooms as students of color.
LD: How often do you guys have meetings and what are they like?
AH: We usually have meetings once or twice a month. Most meetings are centered around a current issue and we will dedicate the meeting to discussion about that topic. Our last leadership meeting focused on Trayvon Martin and the criminalization and profiling of the black male. We have also seen the importance and necessity in having check-ins, so some of our meetings are topic-less and we will focus on connecting and socializing.
LD: The SOAD events I have been to have always been enriching and also fun. Can you tell our readers a little bit about what kind of events you have?
AH: We have had a wide array of events this year! From a screening of Chris Rock’s Good Hair followed by a faculty-led discussion, to a question and answer session with close friend and confidante of Martin Luther King Jr., Clarence Jones, to numerous mixers throughout the year. We try to mix it up as The New School community is diverse, and everyone is looking for something different.
LD: That’s a lot for one year! What is SOAD planning for this Spring?
AH: Well, we have dedicated the month of April to music of the African diaspora. We are having an event dedicated to vogueing culture and the intersectionalities of race, gender and sexuality, as well as a hip hop dance class taught by a SOAD leader, and a cypher/freestyle battle. We are really looking forward to this month! It should be great.
LD: Who can join SOAD and how can they get involved?
AH: Anyone can join SOAD! We welcome any and everyone who is interested in joining the dialogue. We have sporadic meetings throughout the semester as well as numerous events each month. We do not have a strict membership policy. We like to be flexible and keep our doors open. If anyone would like more information or to be included in our newsletter e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
LD: Where do you hope to see SOAD in the future?
AH: We really hope to create more alliances with other groups in the university. On April 20th, we are cosponsoring an event with the Asian Student Society focused on the LA Riots of 1992 and media representations of minority populations. We truly believe this will be an event to remember, and we hope to continue working with other organizations in the future. We also hope to further branch out to the other colleges in the university. We have a strong Lang influence, but we hope to have more students from other colleges joining and helping to form SOAD for the upcoming years.
To find out more about SOAD check them out here!