Cultural Clubs and Affinity Spaces Call For New Members

Greeted by clubs such as Classism at Phillips Academy (CAPA), Afro-Latine-American Society (AfLatAm), and more, the CaMD Club Fair gave opportunities for students to learn about different affinity spaces and clubs where they can find community on campus. The groups gathered on September 15 outside the CaMD office to speak to potential new members. 

Suhaila Cotton ’24, an attendee of the club fair, was impressed by the excitement at the event. After walking around the fair and seeing various tables and advertised groups, Cotton was excited to learn about newly established clubs this year. 

“I would say that the club fair is a six [out of ten] just because it is very crowded in here, but that is just because everybody is so excited about clubs like Caribbean Club. They have some cool events, and AfLatAm does too, obviously. This is the first time that I know of that we have a separate club fair for affinity spaces which is really cool,” said Cotton. 

One of the clubs at the fair was Alianza Latina (Alianza), an affinity group for Latine-identifying students. Kianna Jean-Francois ’23, Co-President of Alianza Latina, expressed her passion for Alianza as an affinity space. Alianza was greatly popular at the club fair and was swamped by interested students.  

I really love Alianza. It was one of the first… affinity spaces I came in contact with when I came to Andover as a [Junior], and I built a lot of my relationships from Alianza. I still hold onto many of those connections now. Alianza, unlike some of the other groups and clubs here, is an affinity space, and you do have to identify as a person of Latina or Latinx background. The good thing about it is that the community is very strong, and we build a family inside the Andover family. It is a great way to have a reminder of home and who you are when you’re in a space that doesn’t necessarily look like you,” said Jean-Francois. 

Georgie Harpole ’25, an attendee of the club fair, agreed with Cotton that the fair was successful. She appreciated the efforts of club leaders and members in making creative posters and setting up different stations. 

“I just got here, but you can already tell that there is a lot of excitement at the fair. I had to sneak in through [Morse Hall] because there is a huge crowd outside. There is a lot of energetic poster-making by the club members, and I’m all for that. Personally, I’ve been going to IFFo [Intersectional Feminist Forum] the longest. I have a lot of friends there. Everybody at the fair is really sweet, and I think that joining those groups is really just a great thing to do on campus,” said Harpole.

Cultural groups, however, were not the only type of group represented. Advocates for Diverse Abilities (ADA) is a club dedicated to fighting ableism on campus. Amelia Vinton ’23, a board member of ADA, reflected upon the growing awareness of ableism on campus and hoped to continue this effort. 

“I identify as having dyslexia and dyscalculia, which are two learning disabilities. I became more outspoken about it during my Upper year, so I wanted to be a part of a group that can create a space that I didn’t have in my first few years at Andover. I was able to advocate more about learning and ableism and the history of disabilities and the issues that our community faces. We are hoping to put on a lot of events. We have a really exciting [All School Meeting (ASM)] speaker this week: Haben Girma. In the next few years, I envision more meetings, events, and open discussions. Having more meetings with people who are willing to learn about the diverse ability community would be great,” said Vinton. 

As the Co-Founder of Southwest Asian and North African Society (SWANA), Nour Rustum ’23 found the club fair helpful in introducing the club to more students. She envisioned SWANA to foster a more inclusive community at Andover. The club fair served as the perfect place for her to introduce the Andover community to Southwest Asian and North African cultures.

“I think the more events that we do and the more opportunities people have to learn about us, the better we can get our events to be. People will learn more about who we are, which is the biggest goal that we have. Something that I think is super exciting to think about is what if we had a belly dancer. Those are so much fun. We have so much fun music and parties in our culture, so I would love for that to happen before I graduate,” said Rustum.