In being a hub for cultural and individual diversity, Kean University has a wide range of cultural organizations, including one of the newest organizations, PRISM. PRISM is a group for members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community to come together and feel they have a safe space and are represented on campus.
Kean University PRISM was recently established this semester by its executive board that includes junior sociology major with a minor in women and gender studies, Patrick McEachern, who decided to create the organization in hopes to see the representation of his community he felt Kean was missing.
"Being queer and LGBTQ+ as well as a transfer coming to Kean, I didn't see the community and representation that I wanted. So I wanted to be able to bring that sense of community and representation and create a group where people can feel like they are represented on campus," said McEachern.
The goals of PRISM range from short term to long term. In the short term, they hope to inform the Kean community about who they are and what they stand for. They are passionate in their efforts to be a haven for the Kean queer population. In the long term, their ultimate goal is to establish an LGBTQ+ resource center on campus to remove misconceptions and provide resources to members of the community.
"Through queer representation we can make Kean a safe place for LGBTQ+ people and community. Proper representation also helps to educate within the community and outside of it as far as common misconceptions and safety," said Matthew Skibniewski, junior biology major and director of public relations for PRISM.
"We as a club want to give people of the community a voice. Every other organization and community has recognition and can be seen from far away. You can spot a Greek or an athlete, but you cannot spot a member of the LGBTQ+ community. We can gain that recognition and do community service and hold events as well," said Ashley Macias, junior psychology and psychiatric rehab major with minor in social media and vice president of PRISM. "With Kean, you can see clusters of people, and this is so important. People need to be talking about the community, people need to know this exists on their campus. It can be a great asset to Kean for queer people who want to come here and can see they are represented."
Kean University recognizes over 160 different clubs and organizations. These organizations are separated into the following eight categories: professional, service, cultural, recreational, religious, performance, governmental and special interest. All of the organizations are unique and have strong goals to better their community, themselves or personal skills.
"Especially for Kean, a school that is 30 minutes outside New York City, a city that has a large queer population, its good we have this representation because it shows we are here. Without representation, we don't get the resources and services we need. People forget about us," said McEachern.
Macias wants the Kean community to know that PRISM is a welcoming space.
"We are super open and super friendly. Most importantly we are a safe space, everything said at meetings is kept at our meetings. You can come and talk about anything, and we accept everyone," said Macias.
For students interested in joining or getting more information on Kean University PRISM, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by one of their general body meetings Tuesdays noon to 1 p.m. in the Human Rights Institute (HRI), Room 207. PRISM is an inclusive environment open to new ideas and members. There is no long application process, so just come by.
"Our agenda is to create an environment that is not only educational, but also comfortable and fun. You are coming into this club not to get lectured on something or feel like someone is just talking at you. We want people to bring ideas and have a voice in this club. At meetings we talk about new events coming up that the club is going to [host] and we work to help build a foundation for the club, while getting more advertisement for the club," said Darius Smith, junior biology major and secretary for PRISM.
PRISM is an organization that exemplifies the impact each student can make. Patrick McEachern, the organization's president, came to Kean and felt their was not an organization that represented what he values and represents, so he made one for himself.
Students interested in creating their own clubs on campus can do so by visiting the Involvement Center, located in the Miron Student Center (MSC), Room 303. When starting a new organization, the group should have at least 10 interested members, a president, a secretary, a club constitution and a full-time faculty/staff adviser.
For more information about the clubs and organizations on campus and how to start one, contact the Involvement Center by calling (908) 737-5270 or by visiting their website.