The Ethnic Student Center’s anticipated Night Market at Western Washington University, set to occur on Sunday, April 30, will no longer be taking place.
“Unfortunately, Night Market has been canceled for this academic year,” said Chelsea Joefield, ESC Club advisor and program manager, in an email.
Amy Westmoreland, director of Multicultural Student Services, has since addressed this over email, citing the cancellation as being the result of many factors, some of which she lists as “timeline constraints in coordinating campus logistics and meeting health department timelines.”
Despite this address by Westmoreland, the news was met with dismay from staff and students.
Boliy Waathan, vice president of diversity for Associated Students, spoke on the sentiments they hold for the Night Market after having previously attended the event.
“Last year, it was something that was really precious to me to see how much work and dedication and love goes into the students of color on campus trying to make space for themselves and for their identities,” they said.
The Night Market is the largest annual event held by the ESC and is meant to serve as a platform for student-run clubs to share their culture and fundraise.
“Our ultimate goal is to make profit for the big events we have like our heritage dinner,” said Meilani Wilson, president of the Pacific Islander Student Association, prior to the event’s cancellation.
Wilson hoped to spread the word of PISA’s presence to Western’s small Pacific Islander population, advertise their upcoming events and raise money for club needs, a sentiment similarly shared by other involved clubs.
The cancellation of this event will thus result in a cut to ESC clubs' opportunity to raise funds and denies the opportunity for club members to further affirm their identity, build a sense of community and cultivate leadership as aspired to in the ESC’s mission statement.
Ultimately, as explained by Waathan, the Night Market is a chance for ethnic students to take up physical space in a very public setting and celebrate their cultures while operating within a primarily white institution.
“I personally think the ESC is a space for students who don't feel seen,” Wilson said. “We can deepen our community with each other and go through this college experience together.”
Waathan said the Night Market is a vital opportunity for ethnic students to step out of the ESC and share their culture with the greater campus — on their own terms.
“By taking this event outside, it's meant for everyone and it gives cultural context to people who may feel disenfranchised — it gives a public voice and a public space for everyone else to learn in a way that is controlled by the students who are putting it on,” they said.
Morgan Merriam (she/her) is a campus news reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a second-year journalism/public relations major. Outside of reporting on the people of Western, Morgan enjoys jewelry making, hiking, and going to concerts. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.