Updated: Jan 17, 2019
Students in the audience cheered and hollered as Salisbury University clubs and organizations modeled attire representing their cultures Monday night.
The Student Government Association organized the Culture Shock Fashion Show to showcase clubs and organizations with diversity and culture built into them and to educate students about the culture of these clubs. The Culture Shock Fashion Show was the first event of Homecoming Week, which goes from Oct. 8 to Oct. 14.
All of the clothes worn in the fashion show are clothes personally owned by the students.
Organizations each chose a specific color to represent their club. For instance, the Asian Pacific Islanders Club wore white to represent purity, while the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People wore navy blue to show power and confidence.
The Men of Distinction promoted black male professionalism by wearing black business attire. They said this was to show that people of color can have just as professional of an outward appearance as white people and that professionalism is all just a matter of perception.
They said the idea that only white men can look professional is a social construct. They believe that black men and women are just as capable of having a professional appearance.
The Muslim Student Association chose olive green to represent peace and the idea of extending an olive branch to someone. In fact, a traditional Arabic salutation among Muslims is “As-Salaam-Alaikum,” which translates to “Peace be upon you.”
President of the Muslim Student Association Aida Dodoo, a French and international relations major, said the purpose of this event was to “showcase diversity on Salisbury’s campus.”
Dodoo explained that SU is a PWI (Primarily White Institution), and people do not often see multicultural students, except in the Guerrieri Student Union, where students go to eat and congregate.
Dodoo said the Muslim Student Association was representing traditional Muslim garb from all over Africa and in Pakistan.
Dodoo considers herself an active member of multicultural organizations and activities on campus, but she still feels that visibility for people of color on campus is a large issue. She said she would attend a meeting for a multicultural organization, such as the Caribbean Student Association, but the majority of people who attend meetings for cultural groups are people of that particular culture.
“This was nice to, like, get all the multicultural groups together and see what culture we do have on campus,” Dodoo said. “I think the groups aren’t as integrated as a more multicultural school would be.”
Dodoo said she feels inspired by all multicultural events, but she was especially astonished to see the celebration of fashion and diversity at the Culture Shock Fashion Show. She said this event made all students of all different cultural backgrounds feel beautiful.
“I love any multicultural event, to begin with,” Dodoo said, “But the fact that we all get to celebrate and have fun, and just, like, go wild while looking beautiful and getting to see everybody show off the best of their culture — that’s such a beautiful thing for any campus.”
Another member of the Muslim Student Association, Basma Elfahssi, a biology major, was wearing a Moroccan dress in the fashion show. She said the event surprised her with the amount of diversity on campus.
Elfahssi said she was elated to see such a community of people of color on campus. She was excited to see all the different cultures represented by students at SU.
“I had no idea that there were this many people of color and different religions and stuff here because I’m not as active as [Dodoo] is,” Elfahssi said. “It was really nice seeing all of this and seeing all these people that showed up for, like, such a different cultural thing.”
SGA members Donovan Mack and Jhane Taylor helped to organize this fashion show. This is the second annual Culture Shock Fashion Show, and they wanted this one to be on a larger scale than the one they hosted last year in the Wicomico Room.
Mack said attendance doubled from last year’s fashion show.
Communication arts major Donovan Mack said the purpose of this event was to “shock you into seeing something you haven’t seen before.” He said this event was important within the larger scheme of Homecoming Week because it showcased the culture and diversity of students at SU.
“We definitely want to bring everyone together but also showcase something new, so Culture Shock kind of shocks you into that new culture through fashion,” Mack said. “We wanted to make sure that the theme [Flock Back: The Return to the Nest] was definitely incorporated while showcasing all aspects of Salisbury University.”
SGA Director of Diversity and Inclusion Jhane Taylor said the show turned out much better than she expected. She was happily surprised by the turnout and the diversity of the event.
She said most of the organizations came to the event because of the email she sent to the Multicultural Alliance. She said the Multicultural Alliance does a great job of bringing together different religions and ethnicities.
“It was better than I could even think of,” Taylor said. “It started out with inclusivity, so it brings a message to SU’s campus that everybody’s welcome, everybody’s included.”
By MELISSA REESE
Featured photo: Salisbury University clubs and organizations modeled attire representing their cultures (Olivia Rowland images).