As the chair member for URI’s Student Senate Cultural Affairs Committee, Angelica Tyson focuses on multicultural community members succeeding on campus. PHOTO CREDIT: James Singer

The Student Senate Cultural Affairs Committee is charged with promoting multiculturalism, maintaining a unified and inclusive space on campus and ensuring equal opportunity for all students, all of which Committee Chair Angelica Tyson is dedicated to.

Tyson is a double major in psychology and criminology and criminal justice. She started her tenure as the Cultural Affairs Committee chair at the end of the spring 2021 semester.

“I got involved on Student Senate because I felt like there’s a lot of issues on this campus that people weren’t really addressing,” Tyson said. “I just want to find a way to actually have the students’ voices be heard and seen and I feel like that was my main driving force.”

Having transferred from the Community College of Rhode Island to the University of Rhode Island, Tyson said that it is hard for many transfer students and international students to navigate all of the resources on campus, which is one of the reasons why Tyson plans on-campus events from donation drives to networking events. 

Since being elected as the chair of the Senate Cultural Affairs Committee, Tyson has made it her priority to help multicultural community members succeed on campus. According to the Senate bylaws, the Cultural Affairs Committee should be concerned with cultural issues including promoting multiculturalism and maintaining a unified and inclusive campus community while ensuring equal opportunity. Tyson said that she does her best to do this.

“Basically, I just want to focus on making sure everyone can see [multicultural students] succeed at this campus, because that was my biggest hurdle growing up,” Tyson said. “I didn’t see anyone that looked like me graduating from high school.” 

Since Tyson stepped into the role of chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Student Senate Director of Information Yasmin Diaz said that Tyson has given 100 percent effort to planning events that consider everyone’s safety, especially in regards to COVID-19 regulations. 

“I definitely feel like she’s been very considerate of the needs of others as the chair and she’s kind of modeled her events around [keeping] everyone safe and still keeping everyone involved, which is great,” Diaz said.

In addition to her position within the Senate, Tyson is also the vice president of the College Democrats and a member of the Black Student Union. Tyson said that she believes that she should focus more on the cultural needs of the URI community, while leaving political topics and issues for other clubs to address.

“I tried to not make politics my main focus here on campus,” Tyson said. “I feel like there’s a lot more issues to talk about. Other organizations and clubs can handle that.” 

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month this past October, Tyson planned and implemented a hat and headwrap drive to encourage breast cancer awareness across URI alongside P.I.N.K. Women. She advertised the drive by leaving pins in the Union and library for students to take for free. The drive asked students to donate hats, headwraps, scarves and other articles of clothing to Newport Hospital. 

“That was a pretty successful drive that I feel like she hosted, especially since she hosted it in collaboration with another bigger student organization,” Diaz said. “That definitely garnered a lot of traction.” 

Before hosting the hat and headwrap drive for breast cancer awareness, Tyson hosted a pumpkin paint night where students painted pumpkins with an element of breast cancer solidarity involved. 

Tyson is currently planning an event for next semester which would bring shelter animals to campus for finals to help raise awareness and money for animal shelters by charging $5 to spend time with an animal.  

Diaz also noted that Tyson is attempting to encourage more participation within the committee as the impact of COVID-19 is slowly moving out of club meetings at URI. 

“She’s definitely trying to get like those Zoom calls to be full or even like if she’s having in-person meetings like she’s trying to get as much involvement and participation on the committee as possible,” Diaz said.

On a larger scale, Tyson plans to be working with a networking event that targets multicultural URI students as an effective way to continue her goal on campus next spring.  

“The main focus of that networking event is working in predominantly white spaces,” Tyson said. “So that will be mainly targeted for the multicultural students here on campus.”