RBS now at the College
The Ralph Bunche Society (RBS) was established in 2006 to honor Bunche’s vision and his achievements. It gives college students of underrepresented social, racial and ethnic groups the opportunity to develop personal and professional leadership skills. RBS at the College is the newest of the eight existent chapters of this organization.
One of the most influential American contributors to the United Nations, Ralph Bunche obtained international recognition for his work as U.N. chief mediator during the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1949 and became the first person of color to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950.
Bunche also played a prominent role in the establishment of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and mediated peace agreements in the war-torn regions of Kashmir, Congo and Yemen.
Students gathered in the Diamond building for a preliminary information session that marked the launch of the RBS’ chapter at the College on Thursday, October 7.
Associate Professor of Government and RBS Faculty Advisor Walter Hatch is excited about RBS’ potential to “raise awareness about international affairs among Colby students” and “[bridge] a divide between US students from underrepresented groups and international students.” Both groups are “natural allies,” he said, hoping RBS will give them the opportunity to come together to discuss global affairs.
RBS’ focus on international affairs and international leadership is unique, setting it apart from other multicultural groups on campus.
The Colby chapter is funded by the Goldfarb Center and the Phelps Stokes organization, which works to establish Ralph Bunche Societies on college campuses across the country.
To promote cultural awareness and develop global citizens, RBS provides its members with a variety of resources. They offer foreign language training, mini-grants, internships, opportunities for study abroad and a space to discuss international and multicultural affairs.
The organization is student-led. “It will really depend on who steps forward and what kind of vision and energy they bring to the game,” Hatch said. Though only half a dozen students came to the information session, Hatch also received emails from several others who were unable to attend but who were eager to express their interest and commitment. “There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm,” he said.
In addition to organizing another informational meeting this semester, RBS plans to invite Johnnie Carson, President Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, to speak with students at Colby.
For Hatch, RBS is part of a greater effort to involve students interested in issues of political and social concern. “I’d really like to bring more students of color, more female students, more gay and lesbian students, more working class students, into the broader discussion about how to address the biggest issues of our time—issues like global poverty, climate change, transnational terrorism and human rights. RBS gives me another opportunity to engage students on these issues,” he stated.
Students looking to get involved with the Ralph Bunche Society on campus should contact Hatch or the Assistant Dean of Students and RBS Administrative Liaison Joe Atkins.