Like many of my peers on campus, I love the student-run diversity initiatives at Case Western Reserve University. However, some organizations get more publicity than others. One of the organizations that I hadn’t heard of until now is Voices: A Women of Color Collaborative.
Until this year, Voices was run by a student affiliated with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, but OMA offered the project to its newest employee, first-year student Hannah Clarke. Voices currently has new leadership and little to no visibility. Founded by OMA in 2014, it aims to help international women and women of color form a community.
A network and a community for women of color and international students is a definite boon to a campus as diverse as CWRU. Increasing awareness of the issues faced by a minority group as broad as Voices allows for sustained dialogue about how to address issues and shift culture on campus and around the country towards a more respectful and open forum for dialogue. By being a group that provides a platform for a group often ignored marginalized, Voices is in a position to act as an advocate for a large section of the CWRU population.
Currently, Voices’ focus is building off last year’s progress and trying to build a legacy that will last for years. They’re trying to spread the word and build a network of women of color and international women, and they’re open to ideas about events and opportunities that Voices can sponsor.
Networking and events also allow people who might not otherwise have mentors or connections to people with similar experiences to feel less isolated. Although I’m not personally a member of this specific minority group, I’ve been surrounded by people of a completely different ethnicity and background than myself for almost all of my high school experience. I had few friends and no mentors through my former high school who have had the same experiences as me. My experience here at CWRU has been fantastic in that regard since I’ve been able to find a group of people that I absolutely feel more connected to than a lot of my former classmates.
I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be a woman of color or an international woman in a college environment, but creating awareness of varying experiences in the CWRU community can only lead to dialogue, understanding, and a way to move past structural biases.
The first meeting of Voices is on October 9 from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Office of Multicultural Affairs on the 4th floor of Sears Library. Check out their OrgSync page for more information.
Currently, they’re expecting a lot of networking experiences and collaborations with groups on campus.
Zubair Mukhi is a first-year student who is planning to study computer science. He writes opinion bi-weekly and is on teams for crew, League of Legends and Overwatch. His favorite color is blue.