SRJC Welcomes All Students in Annual First Oaks Ceremony

Brenna Thompson

Students flooded Bertolini Quad Aug. 22 to be entertained and welcomed to Santa Rosa Junior College’s Fall 2014 semester at First Oaks.

Designed to help incoming students become familiar with the campus and services it provides, the annual First Oaks event helps create an accepting environment for all new students. The activities reflect and appeal to a diverse student population, such as a free taco bar, live music courtesy of White Wall and many clubs and organizations marketing to attract new members.

These clubs showcase the wide range of students that attend SRJC and appeal to all walks of life, including representatives from the Black Student Union, martial arts clubs, dancers, musicians and artists.

One such unique organization is the Second Chance Student Club, which provides a safe environment for previously incarcerated students to support one another.

“[SRJC] is extremely diverse, and I think that’s the best part about a community college,” says junior Jasmine Rivera, representative of the club. “It’s a very accepting place for everybody to come, regardless of where they are in their life or what they’ve done in the past.” When asked for her opinion on First Oaks, Rivera said, “It’s a very diverse event and I’m really glad that we’re having this experience.”

Esmeralda Gonzalez, co-chair of M.E.Ch.A, the Chicano/a Student Movement of Aztlán, said, “The clubs are very unique… It does provide a sense of diversity and community at the same time.” M.E.Ch.A. promotes higher education and addressing social issues with a progressive mindset. “You have separate clubs but at the same time you can all work together and put on events like this,” says Gonzalez of First Oaks. “It definitely helps students feel included.”

Many club leaders shared the notion that the student body was a diverse yet cohesive unit. One thing that they all mentioned was that this variety of cultures and experiences was easily visible in the activities offered.

The broad spectrum of entertainment and food served as a preview for new students to see exactly how different the student population is. Only 61 percent of students are Caucasian; the rest of the student population comprises 21 percent Hispanic, 6 percent Asian American and 3 percent African American, among others.

“It brings so many people together,” said Foster Youth Success member Drew Howell. “Everyone can be relaxed because there are really no set groups at this school; everyone is interconnected.”