Caribbean club meets to celebrate island culture

One of reggae artist Serani’s hits “No Games” blasts in a Mahoney Residential College classroom. A group of students dances to the beat, and one girl flaunts a Jamaican flag as it hangs out of her jean pocket.

This is a typical meeting for the Caribbean Students Association.

“When people think about Caribbean students, all they think about are palm trees and beaches,” said junior Gladia Jean-Louis,  CSA’s vice president. “There is much more to our club.”

CSA was founded in 1981. The club currently has about 50 members from countries including Jamaica,  Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

CSA hosts several events throughout the year. The biggest one is Carib Week, which occurred about two weeks ago. The week’s events included Caribbean-inspired food at the dining halls, and a game night and a date auction at the UC.

In the spring, the club hosts the annual Miss UM Caribbean pageant.  Members of the club are judged on their opening number, swimsuit, question-and-answer, evening wear and talent.

The club also helps ease the transition of international students into life at UM.

“The family atmosphere at CSA allowed me to overcome my shyness and to become more outgoing,” said senior Ludlow Dawes III of Jamaica, a former UM club president who now serves as District 6 coordinator for Florida Caribbean Students Association.

However, students don’t need to come from the Caribbean area to belong to the club.

“We want more non-Caribbean students to join,” said Jean-Louis, who is Haitian-American. “We are not just trying to bring our countries to the States. We want to educate UM students and to show them the fun, lively side of the Caribbean.”

CSA meets at 5:30 p.m. every other Friday in Mahoney classroom 104. Dues are $10 per semester or $15 for the school year. Dues cover food at meetings, club T-shirts and disc jockeys at events. For more information, go to the club’s Facebook page: