A United Front for Sikh Student Organizations

What exactly is the function of a Sikh Student Association? Is it simply to bring Sikh students together on campus for token meetings? Is it to celebrate Vaisakhi by organizing bhangra parties? Is it a platform to mobilize students to act upon issues impacting Sikh youth and the Sikh community? Is it… okay, I’ll stop with the questions.

To be quite honest, I don’t know the answers to these questions. I can speak to what I think the potential of such organizations is – what they could achieve and how an active and effective Sikh Student Organization could impact change. For example, here on TLH we’ve previously discussed how Sikh Student Associations in California have organized student initiated Kirtan and come together for Nagar Kirtans. Last week Camille discussed an initiative taken up by the University of Texas Sikh Student Association (the post stirred up some issues about the role of Sikh student associations). While these events are sporadic and intermittent – they are an example of one of the functional elements of a Sikh Student Organization – to educate ourselves and others about Sikhi.

However, it has to go beyond that. While I think any and all Sikh Student Associations should be given accolade for planning and participating in activities such as weekly Rehraas – there is much more to be achieved. Perhaps what’s integral to the success of these organizations (and to ensure they are effective) is to create an umbrella organization which provides resources and support to local Sikh Student Associations.

Take B.O.S.S. for example,

boss_logoThe British Organisation of Sikh Students is a non-political, non-profit making, independent body which acts as an umbrella organisation helping to develop, assist and support Sikh youth groups. [link]

B.O.S.S. provides a platform for university-based Sikh Student Associations and helps to coordinate their efforts across the UK. Examples include national conferences, Sikhi weeks, and Kirtan Darbars. By logging onto the B.O.S.S. website, any Sikh student interested in classical raag kirtan (for example) can find out about the free class being offered by King’s College Sikh Student Association.

Nevertheless, while an umbrella organization is a great idea for providing infrastructure to the hundreds of Sikh Student groups across the country – at the end of the day, no local organization can succeed without strong leadership. And perhaps that’s what is lacking with today’s university-based Sikh Student groups. It’s quite simple to organize a bhangra party to celebrate Vaisakhi (as one Southern California SSA is doing) and count that as your annual event. However, perhaps it’s doing an injustice to what else could be achieved by a group of young individuals coming together at a critical time in their lives. I think this is an issue that can be revisited again in the future. For now, I’ll leave it here and look for your insight into what you think the function of Sikh Student Associations is.


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28 Responses to “A United Front for Sikh Student Organizations”

  1. Great topic Sundari!

    Not to be overly dramatic but, next to gurdwaras, I personally think that SSAs are the single most important type of institutions we have today. SSAs are the incubators of Sikh leadership. In Punjab and the Diaspora, the many Sikh youth who take an active role in their communities, honed their skills in college with their local SSA.

    However, we have totally underutilized the huge potential of SSAs for mobilizing our youth, giving them leadership opportunities, and taking advantage of their unlimited energy, resourcefulness and passion. Most often SSAs are under-resourced and unsupported by the local Sikh community. They struggle to hold regular events and there is little sustainability year over year. Many SSAs seem to start from scratch every year.

    An regional or national umbrella organization to support SSAs is a fantastic idea. From the outside, it looks like BOSS serves the purpose well. If these groups can be prevented from being turned into political machines or personality vehicles (the downfall of COSS, the Canadian Organization of Sikh Students), an umbrella group can do a lot of good. For example they can:

    – Serve as a central point of communication and collaboration

    – Act as a repository for policies and best-practices

    – Provide centralized training / leadership development for all incoming SSA-executives

    – Provide a voice of advocacy for SSAs within the greater Sikh community

    – Pool resources and contacts together for joint multi-school projects

    – Provide opportunities for out-going SSA execs to stay in touch and act as advisors for new SSA execs

    – Provide a launching pad for SSAs into new educational institutions

    Also, if a board of advisors is created for the umbrella group consisting of outgoing SSA-execs and local youth-friendly Sikh uncles/aunties, it creates a soft form of accountability for SSAs. In exchange for receiving the benefits of the umbrella group, they would have to report back on their activities.

    Many other faith groups have established national or international student organizations. When is it time for Sikhs to do the same?

  2. Great topic Sundari!

    Not to be overly dramatic but, next to gurdwaras, I personally think that SSAs are the single most important type of institutions we have today. SSAs are the incubators of Sikh leadership. In Punjab and the Diaspora, the many Sikh youth who take an active role in their communities, honed their skills in college with their local SSA.

    However, we have totally underutilized the huge potential of SSAs for mobilizing our youth, giving them leadership opportunities, and taking advantage of their unlimited energy, resourcefulness and passion. Most often SSAs are under-resourced and unsupported by the local Sikh community. They struggle to hold regular events and there is little sustainability year over year. Many SSAs seem to start from scratch every year.

    An regional or national umbrella organization to support SSAs is a fantastic idea. From the outside, it looks like BOSS serves the purpose well. If these groups can be prevented from being turned into political machines or personality vehicles (the downfall of COSS, the Canadian Organization of Sikh Students), an umbrella group can do a lot of good. For example they can:

    – Serve as a central point of communication and collaboration
    – Act as a repository for policies and best-practices
    – Provide centralized training / leadership development for all incoming SSA-executives
    – Provide a voice of advocacy for SSAs within the greater Sikh community
    – Pool resources and contacts together for joint multi-school projects
    – Provide opportunities for out-going SSA execs to stay in touch and act as advisors for new SSA execs
    – Provide a launching pad for SSAs into new educational institutions

    Also, if a board of advisors is created for the umbrella group consisting of outgoing SSA-execs and local youth-friendly Sikh uncles/aunties, it creates a soft form of accountability for SSAs. In exchange for receiving the benefits of the umbrella group, they would have to report back on their activities.

    Many other faith groups have established national or international student organizations. When is it time for Sikhs to do the same?

  3. Sundari says:

    I couldn't agree with you more MLS. SSAs are being underutilized and definitely have a lot of potential – but where does the responsibility of taking initiative lie? An umberella organization could definitely provide the infrastructure and support needed to these student organizations – but the initiative will have to stem from the students themselves. I think it would be integral to have a Board of Directors or a similar group of individuals who would provide the support for sustainability because your point is absolutely right – without this sustainability, the SSAs have no momentum to move forward from year to year. I don't think I can name even one SSA in the US which has not only been sustained over the years but has grown (not in quantity but quality).

  4. Sundari says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more MLS. SSAs are being underutilized and definitely have a lot of potential – but where does the responsibility of taking initiative lie? An umberella organization could definitely provide the infrastructure and support needed to these student organizations – but the initiative will have to stem from the students themselves. I think it would be integral to have a Board of Directors or a similar group of individuals who would provide the support for sustainability because your point is absolutely right – without this sustainability, the SSAs have no momentum to move forward from year to year. I don’t think I can name even one SSA in the US which has not only been sustained over the years but has grown (not in quantity but quality).

  5. justasikh says:

    The single biggest problem affecting SSA's are the same as Gurdwaras.

    Alienation of the youth.

    If we take all SSAs and plot them on a Punjabi / Sikhism spectrum, very few actually focus on promoting the best of both culture and faith.

    Often, you will find a group devoted to being brown = bhangra, or a small circle of people failing to connect with the larger student body due to their own isolating tendencies.

    It will be interesting to see if this generation of Sikhs can overcome the failures of the past to first learn, and then share who they are by being who they are.

    Until then, we will have:

    – SSA's who are more religious than their parents were in the swinging 70's and 80's that alienate 95% of the sikh student body who may be interested in starting to learn.

    – SSA's who think everything is like the latest punjabi dance floor number, about drinking, dancing and women.

    When there can be a shift made, and maintained towards agreeing upon founding principles that all groups can be maintained, then we will have a step forward.

    The next step after that will be dealing with succession planning. Most student groups, let alone SSA's, much like Gurdwaras are not well designed with succession planning in mind so that momentum is carried from one executive to the next.

    Great idea though. This is really is about connecting youth to be self-empowering to become a saint towards all of humanity before becoming a solider to fight others beliefs.

  6. justasikh says:

    The single biggest problem affecting SSA’s are the same as Gurdwaras.

    Alienation of the youth.

    If we take all SSAs and plot them on a Punjabi / Sikhism spectrum, very few actually focus on promoting the best of both culture and faith.

    Often, you will find a group devoted to being brown = bhangra, or a small circle of people failing to connect with the larger student body due to their own isolating tendencies.

    It will be interesting to see if this generation of Sikhs can overcome the failures of the past to first learn, and then share who they are by being who they are.

    Until then, we will have:

    – SSA’s who are more religious than their parents were in the swinging 70’s and 80’s that alienate 95% of the sikh student body who may be interested in starting to learn.

    – SSA’s who think everything is like the latest punjabi dance floor number, about drinking, dancing and women.

    When there can be a shift made, and maintained towards agreeing upon founding principles that all groups can be maintained, then we will have a step forward.

    The next step after that will be dealing with succession planning. Most student groups, let alone SSA’s, much like Gurdwaras are not well designed with succession planning in mind so that momentum is carried from one executive to the next.

    Great idea though. This is really is about connecting youth to be self-empowering to become a saint towards all of humanity before becoming a solider to fight others beliefs.

  7. Jaspreet Kaur says:

    I was active in the SSA on my campus. We put on several successful events during the years I was there and a lot of people built great relationships as a result of their involvement with the group (including me). However, I was still dissatisfied with the nature of our SSA and was always at a loss about how to improve things. I think the basic challenge, as Sundari implied in her post, has to do with having a clear vision about what an SSA should be.

    An SSA should be a space where students can learn to experience university life as Sikhs. University life has so much to offer, and the Sikh experience of university life would be different than say, the secular experience, or the Muslim experience, or the Jewish experience, etc. How would a Sikh interpret various academic discourses? How would a Sikh interpret community involvement? Or social relationships? Or dorm life? By "Sikh experience" I don't just mean our own personal, subjective experiences, but the vision that is given to us in Gurbani. Figuring out what this Sikh experience would be is a challenging task, but I think as Sikh students it is what we should be striving towards. If we first have a proper vision, then things like organizing BKLKs, organizing kirtan, and having social gatherings will all fall into place by themselves.

    A major pitfall that SSAs need to steer clear from is identity politics. Part of this is using SSAs as a platform for propagating Punjabiyat. Another part of this is feeling that we need to raise awareness about Sikhs and/or Sikhi on campus or else we will lose the crucial recognition that we need to validate our distinct identity. So what if people on campus don't know about Sikhs? It's not going to have any effect on the number if hate crimes, if that's the concern. We need to establish a positive identity (i.e. figure out what the Sikh experience really is) rather than establishing a negative identity (being insecure about whether or not people know about us and zealously defining the boundaries of Sikh identity in reaction). I'm not suggesting we become isolationist and spurn engagement with our greater communities, on the contrary, I think we should be active on campus. What I am suggesting is that if we are active as true Sikhs, we won't need to worry about raising awareness because our presence will already be felt. Again, if we have the proper vision, everything will fall into place.

    SSAs should not worry about how many members they have, or how much money they raise, or about how many events they organize in a single year. Those should not be our primary goals. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if there are 5 members or 50. If those 5 people get inspired, that's all that matters.

    Having an umbrella organization would be great in theory, as most students don't have the time or resources to do the kind of work that is needed to make SSAs what they should be. If such an organization could help students articulate the Sikh experience of university life, that would be very helpful. And of course, technical assistance is always appreciated too!

  8. Jaspreet Kaur says:

    I was active in the SSA on my campus. We put on several successful events during the years I was there and a lot of people built great relationships as a result of their involvement with the group (including me). However, I was still dissatisfied with the nature of our SSA and was always at a loss about how to improve things. I think the basic challenge, as Sundari implied in her post, has to do with having a clear vision about what an SSA should be.

    An SSA should be a space where students can learn to experience university life as Sikhs. University life has so much to offer, and the Sikh experience of university life would be different than say, the secular experience, or the Muslim experience, or the Jewish experience, etc. How would a Sikh interpret various academic discourses? How would a Sikh interpret community involvement? Or social relationships? Or dorm life? By “Sikh experience” I don’t just mean our own personal, subjective experiences, but the vision that is given to us in Gurbani. Figuring out what this Sikh experience would be is a challenging task, but I think as Sikh students it is what we should be striving towards. If we first have a proper vision, then things like organizing BKLKs, organizing kirtan, and having social gatherings will all fall into place by themselves.

    A major pitfall that SSAs need to steer clear from is identity politics. Part of this is using SSAs as a platform for propagating Punjabiyat. Another part of this is feeling that we need to raise awareness about Sikhs and/or Sikhi on campus or else we will lose the crucial recognition that we need to validate our distinct identity. So what if people on campus don’t know about Sikhs? It’s not going to have any effect on the number if hate crimes, if that’s the concern. We need to establish a positive identity (i.e. figure out what the Sikh experience really is) rather than establishing a negative identity (being insecure about whether or not people know about us and zealously defining the boundaries of Sikh identity in reaction). I’m not suggesting we become isolationist and spurn engagement with our greater communities, on the contrary, I think we should be active on campus. What I am suggesting is that if we are active as true Sikhs, we won’t need to worry about raising awareness because our presence will already be felt. Again, if we have the proper vision, everything will fall into place.

    SSAs should not worry about how many members they have, or how much money they raise, or about how many events they organize in a single year. Those should not be our primary goals. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if there are 5 members or 50. If those 5 people get inspired, that’s all that matters.

    Having an umbrella organization would be great in theory, as most students don’t have the time or resources to do the kind of work that is needed to make SSAs what they should be. If such an organization could help students articulate the Sikh experience of university life, that would be very helpful. And of course, technical assistance is always appreciated too!

  9. Kavinder Dhaliwal says:

    Perhaps you have a legitimate point in highlighting the Southern California SSA's Vaisakhi party. In the minds of many, perhaps it is wrong to celebrate Vaisakhi in such a manner. But it is one thing to accuse an organization of wrongdoing, if one has an entire record of what that organization does and plans to do, and simply another to cast accusations without full information. The former is the work of a detective, the latter of a fool.

    So I beseech you to ask or find out what the UCSD SSA does throughout the year, in terms of religious and social events. In our opinion, we have successfully managed to concoct numerous religious events. Yet, the makeup of our student body isn't such to lend itself to wholly religious "gursikh" events. We prefer that we involve as many of the Sikhs on campus as possible, regardless of where they might fall on the religious spectrum. The Muslims have their Muslim Student Association, but simultaneously have an Arabic, Pakistani, or Indian organization. Those interested in solely the religion take part in the MSA, the others do not. It creates a dichotomy, where those blessed with religious inclinations edify themselves further, while the less pious pass through college without augmenting, if not beginning their religious education. As an SSA, we realize that if we did not hold such social events as this Vaisakhi Party, that eventually a cultural group would form, a Punjabi Club, if you will. Therefore, our SSA ensnares this dichotomy within itself, and we believe, that we have brought interest and education to many Sikhs, who would have lacked it in the presence of a Punjabi Club.

    I do not negate your other points, but you offend in not taking into account all else the UCSD SSA has done, and continues to do. You illegitimately and wrongly use the UCSD SSA as a scapegoat to propagate your umbrella organization. If even in the preliminary stages you must obfuscate the facts, I wonder indeed how your umbrella organization would operate, if not through treachery and deceit.

  10. Kavinder Dhaliwal says:

    Perhaps you have a legitimate point in highlighting the Southern California SSA’s Vaisakhi party. In the minds of many, perhaps it is wrong to celebrate Vaisakhi in such a manner. But it is one thing to accuse an organization of wrongdoing, if one has an entire record of what that organization does and plans to do, and simply another to cast accusations without full information. The former is the work of a detective, the latter of a fool.

    So I beseech you to ask or find out what the UCSD SSA does throughout the year, in terms of religious and social events. In our opinion, we have successfully managed to concoct numerous religious events. Yet, the makeup of our student body isn’t such to lend itself to wholly religious “gursikh” events. We prefer that we involve as many of the Sikhs on campus as possible, regardless of where they might fall on the religious spectrum. The Muslims have their Muslim Student Association, but simultaneously have an Arabic, Pakistani, or Indian organization. Those interested in solely the religion take part in the MSA, the others do not. It creates a dichotomy, where those blessed with religious inclinations edify themselves further, while the less pious pass through college without augmenting, if not beginning their religious education. As an SSA, we realize that if we did not hold such social events as this Vaisakhi Party, that eventually a cultural group would form, a Punjabi Club, if you will. Therefore, our SSA ensnares this dichotomy within itself, and we believe, that we have brought interest and education to many Sikhs, who would have lacked it in the presence of a Punjabi Club.

    I do not negate your other points, but you offend in not taking into account all else the UCSD SSA has done, and continues to do. You illegitimately and wrongly use the UCSD SSA as a scapegoat to propagate your umbrella organization. If even in the preliminary stages you must obfuscate the facts, I wonder indeed how your umbrella organization would operate, if not through treachery and deceit.

  11. justasikh says:

    Ms. Kavinder; Where was the UCSD SSA mentioned here?

  12. justasikh says:

    Ms. Kavinder; Where was the UCSD SSA mentioned here?

  13. Kavinder Dhaliwal says:

    If you must know I am not a woman.

    And secondly, it was implied here, "And perhaps that’s what is lacking with today’s university-based Sikh Student groups. It’s quite simple to organize a bhangra party to celebrate Vaisakhi (as one Southern California SSA is doing)." We have faced enough accusations and ridicule to know when we are being implicated.

  14. laalchaddi says:

    The only substantive Sikh "activist/legal rights" organizations, in the US, are the Sikh Research Institute, and The Sikh Coalition. Let the other college SSAs bicker among themselves and debate how many kegs to get for the annual Bhangra bash.

  15. justasikh says:

    Mr. Kavinder,

    Sorry for the assumption re "ms", I was not thinking.

    Thanks for pointing out where it mentioned the group.. I missed it! Now I can read about it. Thanks for directing me to it, I had done a search on UCSD and nothing turned up.

  16. Kavinder Dhaliwal says:

    If you must know I am not a woman.

    And secondly, it was implied here, “And perhaps thats what is lacking with todays university-based Sikh Student groups. Its quite simple to organize a bhangra party to celebrate Vaisakhi (as one Southern California SSA is doing).” We have faced enough accusations and ridicule to know when we are being implicated.

  17. laalchaddi says:

    The only substantive Sikh “activist/legal rights” organizations, in the US, are the Sikh Research Institute, and The Sikh Coalition. Let the other college SSAs bicker among themselves and debate how many kegs to get for the annual Bhangra bash.

  18. justasikh says:

    Mr. Kavinder,

    Sorry for the assumption re “ms”, I was not thinking.

    Thanks for pointing out where it mentioned the group.. I missed it! Now I can read about it. Thanks for directing me to it, I had done a search on UCSD and nothing turned up.

  19. Vizio says:

    laalchaddi,

    Organizations like the Coalition and SikhRI are very different than university student organizations. You're comparing apples and oranges. Similarly, to make a statement like

    Let the other college SSAs bicker among themselves and debate how many kegs to get for the annual Bhangra bash.

    Shows that you're not basing your statements in any kind of real observation.

  20. Vizio says:

    laalchaddi,
    Organizations like the Coalition and SikhRI are very different than university student organizations. You’re comparing apples and oranges. Similarly, to make a statement like

    Let the other college SSAs bicker among themselves and debate how many kegs to get for the annual Bhangra bash.

    Shows that you’re not basing your statements in any kind of real observation.

  21. Sundari says:

    Kavinder, Thanks for your thoughts. The intent of my post was not to judge your SSA for planning a Vaisakhi party, but rather to use it as an example . Many SSAs plan the token one-event-per year which happens to be a party (this has been done by several SSAs in the past) and my suggestion was that it's about time we go beyond that. Yours isn't the first SSA to plan a Vaisakhi party in Southern California (and it won't be the last), so i apologize if you thought i was calling UCSD out. I wasn't and for the record, I'm not a fool. I am quite aware of the potential the UCSD SSA has (in fact, i helped lay the foundation of the very same organization you claim i am offending). I guess it's a shame because there is an enormous amount of effort that goes into publicizing these types of events and more often than not, we don't hear about all the other activities because they're never discussed or advertised as much. I do stand by my post, as it was done in the best intention, if we as a community don't hold each other to a higher standard – no one else will.

  22. Sundari says:

    @ Vizio:

    Organizations like the Coalition and SikhRI are very different than university student organizations. You’re comparing apples and oranges.

    I agree with you Vizio – SikhRI and Sikh Coalition are distinct from student organizations, however, they provide much support to existing student groups today who often rely on their resources to disseminate information.

  23. Sundari says:

    Kavinder, Thanks for your thoughts. The intent of my post was not to judge your SSA for planning a Vaisakhi party, but rather to use it as an example . Many SSAs plan the token one-event-per year which happens to be a party (this has been done by several SSAs in the past) and my suggestion was that it’s about time we go beyond that. Yours isn’t the first SSA to plan a Vaisakhi party in Southern California (and it won’t be the last), so i apologize if you thought i was calling UCSD out. I wasn’t and for the record, I’m not a fool. I am quite aware of the potential the UCSD SSA has (in fact, i helped lay the foundation of the very same organization you claim i am offending). I guess it’s a shame because there is an enormous amount of effort that goes into publicizing these types of events and more often than not, we don’t hear about all the other activities because they’re never discussed or advertised as much. I do stand by my post, as it was done in the best intention, if we as a community don’t hold each other to a higher standard – no one else will.

  24. Sundari says:

    @ Vizio:
    Organizations like the Coalition and SikhRI are very different than university student organizations. Youre comparing apples and oranges.

    I agree with you Vizio – SikhRI and Sikh Coalition are distinct from student organizations, however, they provide much support to existing student groups today who often rely on their resources to disseminate information.

  25. Jaspreet Kaur says:

    Kavinder,

    I'm very familiar with the predicament you described in your initial response: Do we keep the SSA an organization whose activities stay strictly within the domain of "religion" and make our peace with a dwindling membership of mildly interested people? Or do we make compromises in order to attract members so that we might inspire them to get more involved in "religious activities"? Pretty much all SSAs have to deal with this question, but I think the simple answer is that an SSA should never compromise its character in order to attract or retain members, and an SSA's character should have nothing to do with organizing dance parties. If we have a clear, positive vision of what we should be doing, SSAs don't have to feel trapped between these two options.

    I know this probably sounds vague and utopian, so I'm going to specifically address the concerns you expressed in your initial post.

    You wrote:

    "As an SSA, we realize that if we did not hold such social events as this Vaisakhi Party, that eventually a cultural group would form, a Punjabi Club, if you will."

    If there is indeed an impetus to form a cultural group, you should let it form. If those individuals who are only interested in being Punjabi are forced to operate within the SSA, they just corrupt the atmosphere of the SSA with their own agenda. Neither they nor the more religious-minded people will be at peace. If I'm not mistaken, most SSAs across California have broken apart from their Punjabi/Bhangra counter-parts, and it's really for the best. They share most of their membership, but they each have their own interests and agendas which makes them each more effective.

    "Therefore, our SSA ensnares this dichotomy within itself, and we believe, that we have brought interest and education to many Sikhs, who would have lacked it in the presence of a Punjabi Club."

    This is probably not true. In my experience, people who are interested in SSA, find SSA. People who are on the fence usually come to an event or meeting and decide whether or not its for them. People who want to stay away, stay away. Having a distinct Punjabi club will decrease the quantity of our SSAs but will increase our quality. The Punjabi Club will only be taking away the people who didn't want to be there for the right reasons in the first place. It's not as if every single person in the Punjabi Club won't know exactly how to get involved in SSA, if they are so inclined. And if SSA is doing good stuff, they will come. We just have to have a little faith in ourselves.

    Trust me, I do understand where you're coming from, I've been there. And I'm not trying to single out your school, but trying to address a question that all SSAs naturally have to deal with. There is nothing wrong with Bhangra parties, but SSAs should not be organizing them, period. It's high time we stop doing these things in the name of Sikhi.

  26. Jaspreet Kaur says:

    Kavinder,

    I’m very familiar with the predicament you described in your initial response: Do we keep the SSA an organization whose activities stay strictly within the domain of “religion” and make our peace with a dwindling membership of mildly interested people? Or do we make compromises in order to attract members so that we might inspire them to get more involved in “religious activities”? Pretty much all SSAs have to deal with this question, but I think the simple answer is that an SSA should never compromise its character in order to attract or retain members, and an SSA’s character should have nothing to do with organizing dance parties. If we have a clear, positive vision of what we should be doing, SSAs don’t have to feel trapped between these two options.

    I know this probably sounds vague and utopian, so I’m going to specifically address the concerns you expressed in your initial post.

    You wrote:

    “As an SSA, we realize that if we did not hold such social events as this Vaisakhi Party, that eventually a cultural group would form, a Punjabi Club, if you will.”

    If there is indeed an impetus to form a cultural group, you should let it form. If those individuals who are only interested in being Punjabi are forced to operate within the SSA, they just corrupt the atmosphere of the SSA with their own agenda. Neither they nor the more religious-minded people will be at peace. If I’m not mistaken, most SSAs across California have broken apart from their Punjabi/Bhangra counter-parts, and it’s really for the best. They share most of their membership, but they each have their own interests and agendas which makes them each more effective.

    “Therefore, our SSA ensnares this dichotomy within itself, and we believe, that we have brought interest and education to many Sikhs, who would have lacked it in the presence of a Punjabi Club.”

    This is probably not true. In my experience, people who are interested in SSA, find SSA. People who are on the fence usually come to an event or meeting and decide whether or not its for them. People who want to stay away, stay away. Having a distinct Punjabi club will decrease the quantity of our SSAs but will increase our quality. The Punjabi Club will only be taking away the people who didn’t want to be there for the right reasons in the first place. It’s not as if every single person in the Punjabi Club won’t know exactly how to get involved in SSA, if they are so inclined. And if SSA is doing good stuff, they will come. We just have to have a little faith in ourselves.

    Trust me, I do understand where you’re coming from, I’ve been there. And I’m not trying to single out your school, but trying to address a question that all SSAs naturally have to deal with. There is nothing wrong with Bhangra parties, but SSAs should not be organizing them, period. It’s high time we stop doing these things in the name of Sikhi.

  27. justasikh says:

    Jaspreet Kaur,

    Bhangra parties should be the realm of party promoters, not student groups. It's actually a pretty lazy way of getting people involved in something.

    I was a party promoter for years. I also was involved in student groups and a clear line was drawn, yet since the same people were involved in both scenes, there was greater involvement of people who might not otherwise get involved.

  28. justasikh says:

    Jaspreet Kaur,

    Bhangra parties should be the realm of party promoters, not student groups. It’s actually a pretty lazy way of getting people involved in something.

    I was a party promoter for years. I also was involved in student groups and a clear line was drawn, yet since the same people were involved in both scenes, there was greater involvement of people who might not otherwise get involved.