Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Student organization hosts lunches to spark diversity

A green tablecloth in the Ferguson Center Food Court sets BLEND apart from other patrons on Thursday afternoons. Students sitting at the table range in ages and interests, but they have all been invited by BLEND to come together and meet other students on campus.

Founded last fall, BLEND is a student organization that invites students to eat lunch and mingle with people from various backgrounds and beliefs every Thursday outside the Ferguson Food Court.

“I was just sitting by myself, and they asked me to eat with them,” John Stephenson, a sophomore majoring in management information systems, said. “I just got to meet new people and make friends.”

Students across campus come to BLEND day events from international students to representatives from the Greek system.

(See also: “Lack of diversity traces back to lack of interest“)

“We’re here from 11:30 to 1:30,” secretary Velmatsu Lewis said. “We just set out a tablecloth, sit down and talk to people. I’ve made so many new friends just sitting here. It’s great.”

BLEND began as part of a communication class, when four students were given an assignment to create a social project that could bring people together on campus.

“We wanted to find a way to address important things and bring people together,” Mary Sellers Shaw, BLEND president, said. “It started as a way to integrate sororities, but we realized there was more we could do. We realized there were others separating themselves off into niches, not just by race, but also by religion or sexuality, what have you.”

University President Judy Bonner and Mark Nelson, vice president of student affairs, were originally scheduled to attend a BLEND event but had to cancel due to weather. Shaw said they are in talks to reschedule for one of their annual Pulse Day, when they conduct regular meets with student organizations.

(See also: “Professors, students adjust after snow closures“)

“Dr. Nelson came a couple of weeks ago, so they’ve been very supportive,” Shaw said.

Though BLEND has thus far only hosted weekly luncheons, they are also working on hosting events with other student organizations on campus, including Crimson Kindness and the Mallet Assembly.

“The name is what it sounds like,” vice president Haley White said. “Just a blend of anyone. Different cultures, different backgrounds. Everything. We encourage anyone eager to make BLEND available to anyone, even those not in any clubs.”

(See also: “Professor promotes critical thinking, diversity“)

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