The St. Catherine University Student Senate met on October 31st and chartered a new club despite some members worries of cultural appropriation and exclusivity.
Student Senate met in the Rauenhorst Ballroom on the second floor of the Couer de Catherine (CDC) to discuss student worries and go over Senate plans. During this meeting Cassidy Hanson and Mikaela Kauma presented their new club, The Yoga and Meditation Organization, for Senate consideration. They presented the club as a place for students to destress from exams and classes, and to spread kindness while teaching students yoga and meditation practices. While many members supported this club, several raised concerns. One member, Senator Teighlor McGee, was concerned with the possibility of cultural appropriation through this club and how the members would avoid being “culturally appropriative”. She also had worries of exclusivity due to a stigma around yoga. McGee voiced concern that yoga had developed a stigma and an image that is was only for people of a certain body type or people of a certain ethnicity and worried that people outside of this image wouldn’t feel welcome. There was a concern about the name of the club also due to concern that it increased this image.
I spoke with one of the cofounders of the club Cassidy Hanson, undecided, ‘21, and when asked about these concerns of cultural appropriation she felt that this wouldn’t be an issue because they are not associating or focusing on any “religious affiliation…or ethnicity affiliation”. She also felt that the inclusivity issue wasn’t a concern because the club is open to anybody. While at the senate meeting co-founder Mikaela Kauma spoke about how she wants the club to find against the stigma that yoga is for certain people and the image that, “you have to look like this, and be interested in this.”
Once the club is chartered it’s up to individuals if they want to join. Hanson stated that the club is meant to “promote kindness and love.” Some senate members had worries about students feeling excluded and the club be exclusive; When asked about these issues Hanson doesn’t see a problem because “everyone is included, that’s the purpose.” However, the concerns about the name are something that she understood and she said that they are open to and considering a name change.
While some senate members had issue with it, and didn’t see how a simple name change would fix the problem.
The idea of a place to relax from the stress of college sounded good to one student. Kalea Ott,, Apparel Design, ’21, was excited about this club, and said that she would most likely attend if she had time. Ott has been practicing meditation for a long time and is glad that people are interested.
When asked about the concerns of cultural appropriation she saw no issue . She felt that the club wasn’t trying to be a certain culture but was “appreciating” the practice of yoga, and having lived in Korea and seen the temples were yoga was practiced she’s glad that it’s being appreciated. She felt that bringing up the issue was merely taking away from what the practice is about, that “to have worries brought into is taking away from it”. Arguing about the name of the club takes away the peacefulness of yoga, which she feels should be “a time to take time for yourself.” The issues brought by Senate aren’t a problem for her and she is glad that there will be place to go because it, “can be hard to do it on your own,” and she said she will probably join.
The club plans to start meeting next semester and whether it will be an issue of cultural appropriation or exclusivity is unknown, but the founders hope that all students will feel welcome to come to meetings and destress.