A group of St. Thomas students are planning a business club for minorities and expect to officially launch it this fall.
Sophomore Sarah Ubani came up with the idea of establishing the business club, which specifically caters to minority students.
“I just found it interesting that St. Thomas, being a school known for business, did not have a business club specifically for students of color,” Ubani said. “Many other schools have an established club for minorities, yet St. Thomas doesn’t.”
Ubani collaborated with sophomore Nyajal Dup to create a club constitution, but the duo have yet to come up with an official club name. The organization expects to be recognized as an official club by the Undergraduate Student Government in fall 2013.
University of Minnesota sophomore Baza-Haile-Selassie, a member of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), shared a similar idea in establishing a minority business club at St. Thomas. After approaching St. Thomas’ Bradley Pulles, program director of the Student Diversity and Inclusion Services Office, he gathered all students interested in forming the club in late April to discuss what to incorporate and who should be included in the organization.
Ubani hopes to model aspects of the club after the NABA chapter at the University of Minnesota, which provides networking opportunities for minority business students. Pulles said although NABA is a great example of a business organization for students of color, he hopes the St. Thomas club will aim to include everyone.
“We talked with the students about making this club open to all students pursuing a business degree, whether it’s marketing, entrepreneurship, finance, or accounting,” Pulles said. “We are also hoping to make this club not just for African-American students, but also Asians, Hispanics, as well as students who are not of color.”
Pulles said making the club more inclusive might increase the number of students involved. Ubani said she is concerned about the retention rate of the club.
“Being in a club requires dedication and a genuine interest to be a part of it,” Ubani said. “It might be a challenge getting people to really participate, but I’m hoping we can accomplish that.”
Senior Jessica Wilson, Black Empowerment Student Alliance community student liaison, said she is unsure whether a business club for minorities is necessary at St. Thomas.
“I don’t know if the numbers would be there,” Wilson said. “Just because there are already multicultural groups on campus, like (Hmong United Student Association), (Globally Minded Student Association), (African Nations’ Student Assoication), BESA that focus on all of those aspects, whether it’s business, psychology or anything.”
Ubani, also a member of BESA, said although the organization unites students of color, it does not satisfy the needs of minority business students.
“BESA is more of a cultural club and I feel like business and culture are two different things,” Ubani said. “I feel like most BESA members are not even business majors, therefore, the focus is not ways for students to advance themselves in the business world.”
Wilson said although she thinks BESA can meet the needs of minority business students, she is not opposed to an additional club that caters to students of color.
“I think St. Thomas can definitely grow their diversity services,” Wilson said. “There’s always room for diversity and multicultural clubs because it makes campuses more well-rounded.”
Sophomore Elisandra De Brito who majors in International Business said she would be open to giving the minority business club a chance.
“I would join because I feel like as a minority, we don’t have a business group on campus like this.” De Brito said. “I feel like most business groups are mostly for white students so there are not specific tips for students of color when pursuing a career in business.”
Ubani said establishing this club on campus will also align with president-elect Julie Sullivan’s plan for St. Thomas.
“I’ve heard the new president is in support of diversity and has accomplished that at her previous university,” Ubani said. “I think this club will support that mission, retain students of color and represent an evolving campus.”
Eden Checkol can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.