Multicultural Ball: A Celebration of Individuality

Madison Ballou, Contributing Writer

As a part of the 2023 Springfest weekend, Colgate University hosted a Multicultural Ball in the Hall of Presidents. The Multicultural Ball is a formal event held with the intent of celebrating the diversity of the Colgate community. Attendees got the opportunity to learn more about their peers’ backgrounds and share their own in a communal space through clothing, food and music. The space was decorated with string and strobe lights, Multicultural Ball banners, flower displays and traditional objects from a wide range of cultures. Guests wore traditional dress including sarees and hanfus. The night was a celebration of individuality. 

Maria Suleman, a senior women’s studies concentrator was an organizer of this event. Suleman took pride in her role and wanted to make the event a memorable night for everyone. She made sure to give every cultural background a place at the ball. 

“There was a lot of research into different cultural motifs, foods and music that went into making this event possible. My personal favorite part was envisioning the actual space and coming up with decor ideas that encompassed a wide variety of cultures. I had so much fun finding individual pieces that came together beautifully when combined with others,” shared Suleman. 

The organizer felt pressure to make this event special, specifically for people of color or people of different cultural backgrounds, as this was the first and only multicultural-focused event held during Springfest. Suleman hopes her efforts leave an important legacy: Making the Multicultural Ball an annual event during Springfest. 

“… [There is a] current lack of POC representation during this annual tradition. I think people feel as though they need to attend Greek life events to actually enjoy Springfest and have the same experience as their peers when there should be a variety of spaces for people to have fun with their friends. I think events like the Multicultural Ball could also further encourage students who otherwise exist at the margins of Colgate’s party scene to feel centered, seen, and appreciated for being themselves. We saw a lot of people comfortably express themselves in their cultural attire and dance to music they probably wouldn’t hear at other events on campus. I think that is enough for this event to be prioritized and highlighted by the university,” Suleman said. 

Another one of the organizers, senior Sarika Pyreddy, also commented on the event.

“Multicultural Ball was a way to celebrate Colgate’s diversity through food, music, and clothing. This was the first cultural event held during Springfest so it felt pretty monumental for everyone involved in the organization. OASIS+ and ALANA hope to make this an annual tradition at Colgate so people have more space to express their culture with others and hopefully build a more unified community.”

With the hopeful addition of the Multicultural Ball to future Springfest schedules, Suleman feels that underrepresented groups in the Colgate community will find comfort and support outside of the traditional university party scene. She feels confident that the success of the event will secure the ball as a must-have event during Springfest 2024. Her hard work allowed for students of all different backgrounds to feel loved, appreciated, and at home. Suleman cites the lively dance floor as evidence of the event’s success.

“Everyone was dancing together! We had such good energy at this event with some individuals encouraging others to join in on the dance floor and it was just so wonderful seeing people teach other dances from their individual cultures,” shares Suleman. 

Hopefully, the positive experience of those who attended the Multicultural Ball will open more opportunities for people of color to express their cultures with the Colgate community. This ball was a step in the right direction toward making the campus a more inclusive space that celebrates each student’s individuality.