Finding that place to fit in, a community, can really make a student’s experience at Western. The Ethnic Student Center is just one of those places where students con-nect. The ESC is a student run organization that is part of the Associated Students, that connects clubs and students across campus.
“It’s like a business atmosphere but also a very social atmosphere,” said Marcella Tomlin, the Associated Students Vice President for Diversity and a liaison for the ESC. “Any student who’s looking to make friends or get involved, the Ethnic Student Center is a very good place to start.”
In addition to providing a place to meet other students and hang out, the Ethnic Student Center connects many ethnic clubs on campus and assists students in planning events.
“Another reason [the ESC] holds a unique place in the Associated Students is because they operate independently but co-dependently,” said Tomlin, “and students can learn how to run their clubs there, what kind of paperwork they need. They can learn how to put on events and learn about a lot of different services our university offers.”
The ESC sponsors and hosts events regularly during the school year.
“Every year we have the Filipino-American heritage dinner, the Black History Month Celebration and dinner,” said Tomlin. “We always have African-Caribbean Culture Night.”
One of the first events of this school year is the Ethnic Student Center Conference, a weekend retreat on October 20 to 22 at Fort Worden, Port Townsend.
Tomlin is especially excited for the conference. “[The ESC Conference] is the most un-intimidating opportunity for any student to get involved with the Ethnic Student Center,” said Tomlin. “Even though it’s put on by the Ethnic Student Center, we’ve incorporated a lot of university resources, as well as a lot of faculty members to do workshops or speak at the conference. A lot of new students, because it’s in the fall, go to learn about whatever workshops are going on and to meet other students. A lot of people make friends for life there, a lot of people they never would have met before.”
More information about the ESC Conference will be available at Info Fair in Red Square on September 25 and 26, and in the ESC office in Viking Union 420. Visiting to learn more about the ESC Conference is welcomed.
Tomlin encourages students to overcome their anxiety about coming in.
“You have to navigate your way there,” said Tomlin, “and when you get there, it’s the ultimatum: should I open the door? Even myself when I first came to Western and first saw the Ethnic Student Center, I was like, ‘Okay, I gotta walk in, I gotta meet all these new people.’ I just felt really scared walking in and now I feel totally comfortable. It’s that whole process of getting rid of your fear and inhibitions and going into the ESC and getting involved with a lot of different clubs.”
The Ethnic Student Center is located in Viking Union 420 and is open Monday through Friday, 8-5. They can be reached at (360) 650-4800 and esc@cc.wwu.edu, or online at www.wwu.edu/~esc.