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New campus organization spreads diversity

March 6, 2008

Desi Student Organization (DSO) represents everyone who practices the culture within the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East. The organization is open to all students, regardless of ethnic background.

“[The goal of this group] is to spread awareness of diversity,” Alifa Momin, DSO secretary, said.

DSO’s advisor, Linda Alvarez, is looking forward to what DSO will bring to the campus.

“I’m really excited about Desi because it’s a student-initiated group composed of members, some of whom are East Indian, and some who aren’t, who enjoy the culture, enjoy the food, dance, history and contributions of the culture and are very eager to share with the rest of the campus community,” Alvarez said.

There are approximately 130 student organizations on the UWRF campus, but getting the organization going was not an easy task.

“It took a lot of time, [we] had to meet with a lot of people, fill out a lot of forms,” Patel said. “It’s crazy but fun at the same time.”

To start DSO, there were several steps that the group members needed to follow. There had to be at least five students interested in starting the group. From there the new members had to fill out the necessary paperwork, develop a group constitution and find a faculty advisor.

DSO encourages all students to be a part of the group and attend group meetings.

“We’d like it if there were more people who came [to the meetings] who do not know a lot about it,” Bhavita Patel, President of DSO, said. “They could give us some idea of ways we could help educate this campus about our organization and who we are. It would be good if other people came besides us because we already know our own culture.”

DSO has given presentations at the middle schools and elementary schools in the area, bringing culture and diversity to children. They have used PowerPoint presentations that educate the culture, history and entertainment in the Desi community.

During the presentation, the group also dances and offers samples of Desi desserts.

DSO’s next event on the UW-River Falls campus is Aaja Nachle, which means “Let’s Dance.” The event is on March 13 from 8 – 11 p.m. in the Falcon’s Nest of the University Center, and is free of charge.

Everyone is welcome to the “club-like” dance party which will feature Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Arabic and English remixes of music. DSO hopes the event will be an opportunity for students, faculty and the community to learn about Desi music and dance. 

“Club attire preferred—dress to impress,” Patel said.

She also mentioned that she has made a Facebook group for Aaja Nachle that will give people more information. 

DSO is also going to be part of the International Bazaar April 10 and Unity in the Community April 23.

DSO is already planning events for next year. They hope to make a trip to an Indian / Middle Eastern restaurant, go to an event at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus and will hold fundraising events on the UWRF campus.

There are two events DSO may attend at the Twin Cities campus. Diwali, which is in the fall, is an Indian Christmas and New Year celebration. The second, Holi, is in the spring and is an Indian Color Festival.

DSO has been forming for four years. Ruzin Mirza, who is taking this semester off of school, got the group started.

“Hopefully she’ll come back next year and be the president of the organization,” Patel said.

Patel is graduating in May and needs someone to take over her position when she leaves.

DSO meets on Tuesdays at 4 p.m. in the Multicultural Room in the basement of the Chalmer Davee Library.