Binghamton University students gathered for a night of empowerment, performances and recognition to celebrate women of color at the seventh annual Powerful United Ladies Striving to Elevate (PULSE) banquet in the Mandela Room on Friday evening.
This year’s banquet, titled ”007,” was based on a James Bond theme, and students posed in formal attire for pictures under a decorated banner made by members of PULSE. According to Nya King, publications coordinator for PULSE and a sophomore majoring in English, the theme had never been done before, but she felt it was a great way to encourage women to dress and feel their best.
“Every year we hold a banquet to just celebrate the women on this campus — usually women of color, but it’s not exclusive,” she said. “This year’s e-board has come with a lot of fresh ideas. The theme hasn’t been done before, and it was so perfect, because it’s our seventh annual banquet. It’s supposed to be a James Bond theme, really sleek, just to empower women.”
The banquet kicked off with a performance from the BU Gospel Choir and included other student performances, a presentation on the history of PULSE, an award for the most supportive fellow organization and a dinner.
Founded in 2007, PULSE aims to serve women of color on campus and provide a safe space and a network for both professional and personal empowerment while striving to create an open environment where women of color can discuss their issues freely, encourage one another and gain recognition for their accomplishments.
Since its founding, PULSE has flourished into a growing organization that holds a number of events, including the banquet, a women’s leadership conference and a breast cancer walk.
Jessica Gonzalez, an intern at PULSE and a sophomore majoring in chemistry, said she took part in setting up the event and was hoping for the banquet to have an impact on students who aren’t involved with PULSE.
“This event is supposed to embrace the women and their sexuality and their power, and it’s also to get people more informed about PULSE and celebrate those who are involved in it, but not on e-board,” Gonzalez said.
Jaylene Tejada, a freshman majoring in economics, said she was interested in learning more about the organization’s e-board.
“I decided to attend the event to support PULSE and to hear more about their mission statement,” Tejada said. “I just want to have a good time and get to know who’s on the e-board for PULSE.”
Jennifer Tiburcio, president of PULSE and a junior majoring in political science, said that they put together the banquet in order to award and recognize not only women of color, but also other organizations on campus that have created a meaningful impact on Binghamton’s community and embody PULSE’s values while discussing serious issues that affect women of color in the community.
“Our banquet serves as a night to recognize and celebrate the strength and beauty of women of color through awards, performances and an empowerment section,” she said.
One of these awards, which went to the most supportive organization, was given to the Latin American Student Union for facilitating engaging discussions on issues affecting marginalized communities.
Precious Johnson, a senior majoring in theatre, performed a spoken word piece that she wrote for the event. Johnson decided to participate in the banquet because of how she was drawn to PULSE, especially since she supported how they recognized the strip-search allegations of four black girls attending East Middle School in Binghamton.
“I don’t mind ever performing for any of the multi-cultural events overall, but this one specifically, they decided to recognize the four girls that were strip-searched at the Binghamton Middle School, and I just really support that recognition, especially because the situation is being downplayed,” Johnson said. “I just want people to take from it that they’re not alone when they’re feeling these frustrations with being a black female. There’s a lot of things that you’re tested with, especially with being seen as a threat based off of assumptions.”
Geraldin Diaz, a senior majoring in Latin American and Caribbean studies, was the host for PULSE’s annual banquet last year, and said she felt it was necessary to return to an event for an organization that is so important to her.
“This year I knew I needed to come back because I needed to see more of what they were doing, because they’re such a great organization,” Diaz said. “They were the first organization that saw something in me by giving me the opportunity to host, and this year I want to meet more people and see what PULSE has coming up for the spring semester.”