Tuning in to Caribbean Culture: College’s nascent SOCA club celebrates Caribbean heritage, community


In addition to many well-established multicultural organizations, such as the Latin American Student Union and the African Cultural Society, the College of William and Mary is now home to a MCO made specifically for students of Caribbean heritage. Students of Caribbean Ancestry was formally created this February, primarily by friends Nitara Delahaye ’25 and Ethan Stewart ’25, and it has already worked to assemble an executive board and an established constitution, which can be both be found on its respective TribeLink page.  

SOCA was not founded in reaction to any one particular or isolated event, but rather was the result of what the club’s constitution refers to as a “feeling of estrangement” that students of Caribbean ancestry have experienced at a predominantly white institution like the College. Additionally, the wide range of identities encompassed within the African diaspora encouraged SOCA’s founders to create a space where those of specifically Caribbean heritage could feel appreciated and included.

“Many of us are scattered through multiple organizations without having a proper home or community, and a lot of us are misrepresented,” Stewart said. “We’re [from] so many different islands and also the mainland continent, from countries like Suriname, to St. Vincent, to Trinidad, to the Bahamas, to Haiti, to the Dominican Republic, and there’s so many of us. The club was started to spotlight students, to make them feel comfortable, to share their culture, to know that there’s a place on campus for them.” 

Stewart had felt like Caribbean students on campus were often seen as mere caricatures and weren’t looked at as the diverse and complex community they are. 

“We’re not really taken as a serious community of people by a lot of people on this campus,” Stewart said. “That’s something I feel like I’ve seen, I’ve experienced, and I want to rectify.” 

For Delahaye, her interest in creating SOCA was similar to Stewart’s in regards to her experience at the College, but also stemmed from her experience at American University where there is, contrastingly, a very active Caribbean circle. 

“I transferred here my sophomore year from a university in D.C., and when I got here, I was kind of surprised that there wasn’t a club for students of Caribbean ancestry,” Delahaye said. “So I went on TribeLink and looked, and I was like ‘Wait, there’s nothing here, that’s so weird.’ So at that point in my sophomore year, I was sort of looking for a space.”

Once the club held its first interest meeting, it was clear that other students at the College held the same interest for a space dedicated to those of Caribbean heritage.  

“When you have a first interest meeting for a new club, it’s probably just you and exec and maybe a couple of friends,” Delahaye said. “We actually had what I would say maybe eleven or twelve people at the interest meeting, so that was awesome to see. And a couple of those people were in LASU, and I wasn’t expecting that. And that was really great to see, sort of support from other MCOs.” 

Although there are some other MCOs on campus that students with Caribbean ancestry could join, the founders of SOCA didn’t feel like their community had a uniquely designated place at the College that was truly for them in all ways. 

“In order to find my own niche, I would go to other MCO club events,” Delahaye said. “The people in ACS and BSO are amazing and awesome, but it’s not the same as someone who completely relates to your upbringing or your cultural foods or your cultural events that you celebrate with your family. It’s different, and I feel like we just needed a space just so we don’t feel so alone.” 

However, looking to create a different space specifically for students with Caribbean heritage did not isolate SOCA from other MCOs at all. A lot of overlap in members and interests has created a lot of collaboration and support from groups like LASU, ACS and the Black Student Organization. In fact, SOCA’s first ever event was a dance workshop, which was in collaboration with ACS.

“We’ve been getting a lot of support from other MCOs,” Delahaye said. “A lot of their exec helped us out. They repost our little posts that we have on Instagram and they show up to our events, so it’s really nice to see.” 

Reaching out to the larger community isn’t an easy task for a nascent club, but the utilization of social media and GroupMe has been key, and cross-club connections have also proven to be helpful.

“We use GroupMe and Instagram,” Delahaye said. “However, since it’s so small, we use other GroupMes. We would post our event information within, for example, ACS’ GroupMe because we are friends with so many people in ACS, so it’s fine to promote our stuff within that GroupMe group chat.” 

Due to the recent creation of the club, there is a higher number of freshmen on the executive board than one might usually see. SOCA secretary Taylor Coker ’27 serves as one such executive board member. Coker expressed an eagerness to jump on the opportunity of joining a community of students with Caribbean heritage. 

“One of my close friends, who was one of the co-founders, and he and Nitara, another co-founder, wanted to start an organization. And I was like ‘I’m here. I’m ready to go. Just let me know,’” Coker said. “Me and my friend Jada, who’s also a freshman, we were just waiting for the Constitution and everything. But I was right on board, I was like ‘This is a big deal.’ This is something big. You have BSO, you have ACS, this is the next big thing.” 

The opportunity to be on the executive board of a club at such an early point in college is one that a new club tends to offer at a higher rate than more established groups, and Coker is working to not let this chance go to waste.  

“To be able to be a part of this organization and be the secretary of the organization and actually get to handle executive decisions and stuff, it’s really helped me a lot, because that’s building my character as a person and giving me skills for the business world as well,” Coker said.  

In addition to any executive board opportunities, Coker finds importance in the  club’s sense of community, which Coker has found and helped foster already in the short existence of SOCA. 

“It’s also building a sense of community and family on this campus because it is very hard to be a black woman on this campus, and to have a society of a beautiful, excellent, talented group of people, it makes it easier and gives me a chance to relax and I can be myself,’” Coker said. “I’m going to learn so much because Ethan and Nitara are great people. Just to be around them, it’s kind of like a mentor-to-mentee kind of thing.” 

Ultimately, this new club is meant to be a space of belonging, education and community. Providing a place for students with Caribbean ancestry while educating and de-stigmatizing the heritage is a main goal. 

“I just don’t want Caribbean students to feel lost, like I felt my sophomore year,” Delahaye said. “I just want them to feel like they have a space to come to, where people will acknowledge their ancestry and also support them and relate. Just an outlet away from the rest of life.” 

SOCA is new and yet already has interest on campus and support from other MCOs, making this organization one that, according to Stewart, is certain to have a bright future. 

“We might be a small population, but we are still a loud and proud people,” Stewart said. “So by the time I leave, I’m hoping that that remains, that it still is, and it grows into something more that I even couldn’t imagine, something better.” 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here