As of Nov. 11, the BSA is now a provisionally chartered club at Binghamton University, gaining approval from the University’s Student Association (SA).
The chartering marks a significant achievement for Bangali students who wish to celebrate the language and culture, according to Faisal Alam, a freshman double-majoring in political science and psychology. Alam noted the adjustment to university life can often be difficult, and for many students, the lack of the same community or culture they experienced back home can be challenging.
“I wasn’t used to having less diversity and felt at odds from the beginning, as I had grown up in Brooklyn and Queens,” Alam said. “I lived near Ozone Park and saw Bangali people every day and [now] it has changed.”
Similar concerns of exclusion were raised by Sanzidul Haque, founder of BSA and a junior majoring in business administration.
“There’s not enough action that takes place when it comes to communities within campus, which makes people that live on campus uncomfortable,” Haque said.
It was a desire for a community that led Haque to hold the first general interest meeting (GIM) for the BSA in March 2019.
“It’s definitely something a lot bigger than myself,” Haque said. “[Chartering] was something we weren’t even thinking about because our goal wasn’t the chartering — our goal was bringing the community together. I believed in the community so much.”
Holding a GIM is one of the first steps of the chartering process, meant to gauge interest in a potential club, according to the SA website. Haque described the response to the first meetings as a welcome surprise.
“Honestly, we’ve had a really successful first semester,” Haque said. “I guess I’m just experiencing the first wave of, ‘Hey, you’ve accomplished something, and people are starting to take notice.’”
The BSA’s recently awarded charter status is the next step to making the organization a permanent space for students with Bangali roots. With charter status, the club will now be able to utilize room reservations, a B-Engaged page, an account number and other resources, according to the SA website.
However, the journey is not over yet for the BSA. In accordance with SA guidelines, the club must wait one year to receive full charter status to take full advantage of other SA resources, including funding. Haque said the group currently relies on independent funding.
“We self-fund ourselves as an organization — we are not reliant on the SA budget,” Haque said. “We’re independently funded, which challenges us.”
The organization has found its own ways to raise club funds, including operating a cultural food sale on Nov. 18. The event, dubbed “Biryani Bari,” provided students with a range of Bangali dishes on campus. However, it was more than just a fundraiser to its members.
“One thing that I’m really proud of my organization for is that we always welcome people to our food,” Haque said. “That’s something I want to emphasize — our food allows us to share the love of our culture and bring diversity onto campus.”
For freshmen like Alam, finding this aspect of BU’s diversity was all it took to feel welcome.
“I found out about BSA from my [resident assistant],” Alam said. “He saw me and started speaking in fluid Bangali, and I immediately felt welcome. He told me about it and I was interested in joining.”
A few meetings were enough for Alam to find himself at home.
“I wish to attend more meetings and I love the fact that we can all relate to a lot of the same things,” Alam said. “It’s like a family here at [BU].”