Building community

NRSC welcomes all students to a safe and open space

Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
Dude, what’s that delicious smell?
A common question heard amongst students walking in the first floor of the Mourant Building on Friday, August 31. More than likely, that smell was radiating from the fresh fry bread the Native and Rural Student Center. Choosing to follow your nose could have been the best choice you made all day.
The NRSC welcomes everyone to build community on campus. This space is home to two UAS clubs: Wooch.een and The Campus Inclusivity Alliance.
Wooch.een, or “working together” in Tlingit, is the Alaska Native students club and is open to any student who wants to learn more or be apart of the Alaska Native culture. The club is known for planning events both on and off campus, as well as hosting lectures by Native Alaskan Scholars.
The Campus Inclusivity Alliance also calls the NRSC home. As a safe space on campus for students of all race, gender and LGBTQ standing. Coordinator of the NRSC, Kolene James wants students to find this space as their, “home away from home.”
James works to create a safe and fun hangout for students on campus.
“Students should feel safe and be themselves. We celebrate identity here. Myself and my wonderful students want this to be a place for students to find community,” James said.
Think of the NRSC as a comfortable place to hang out. There are couches and other seating if students need a break from the day. Students do not need to be a member of the club to enjoy the space, but must be respectful of all students also enjoying the space. Students also make study groups and do homework assignments in the room.
The center also promotes food sovereignty, a program that educates students on harvesting edible and medicinal plants.
Additionally, the NRSC will host an event for Indigenous People’s Day on October 8, with a theme of resiliency. Continuing through the year, the NRSC will put on a multitude of experiences.
It is not just James that contributes to this space’s openness, students also play a major role in this goal. Students are first attracted to the center for a number of reasons.
For marine biology student Ana-Christine Tafoya, it was the culture and soulfulness that drew her in.
“Being from New Mexico, the smell of fry bread reminded me of home,” Tafoya said.
Alaska Native languages and studies major Claire Helgeson was enticed into the center to continue her work in social justice groups. “Wooch.een organizes social justice events, and the center supports students with social justice interests by providing community,” Helgeson said.
Whatever the reason, students of all backgrounds have found a reason to call the NRSC home.
To stay informed, add Wooch.een on Facebook for news on upcoming events.

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