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Sangam was added to the United Minorities Council as its 12th member group. The United Minorities Council recently welcomed into its membership a new group devoted to progressive South Asian interests. Sangam, which in Sanskrit means "a confluence of rivers" -- a metaphor for unity -- is the 12th member of the UMC. The group's membership represents just the latest movement of campus groups into or out of the UMC. In the spring of 1998, two Latino groups -- El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan and La Asociacion Cultural de Estudiantes Latino Americanos -- withdrew from the UMC, citing the group's lack of political focus. And in the fall of that year, the bi-cultural group Check One joined the umbrella organization, followed by the Penn Arab Student Society in January 1999. Members of Sangam hope that through their association with the UMC they will increase their interactions with other groups, develop larger publicized events and gain more exposure. "Our goal for the spring is to build partnerships and do collaborative work with other organizations," said College senior Gaurab Bansal, co-chairperson of Sangam. "That's part of the reason we joined the UMC." Both Bansal and College senior Tariq Remtulla, Sangam's other co-chairperson, emphasized that their group is more political than some of the other groups in the UMC. That quality, they feel, made Sangam look more attractive to the UMC. "There's a South Asian Society but it focuses on social and cultural events," Remtulla said. "We provide a niche for South Asian students who want to look at other issues." Remtulla added that in addition to its political focus, Sangam is also a cultural group which "wanted to add another South Asian voice to the UMC." Both Sangam members and the UMC leaders said they are excited about the new union. "They've been a welcomed addition to our family," said UMC Chairperson Chaz Howard, a College senior. Howard added that Sangam has already made a name for itself within the UMC by supporting Unity Week activities, contributing to panel discussions and being willing to lend a hand with the everyday tasks that keep the UMC running. Howard agreed that Sangam's "political edge" attracted the UMC to the group. "We felt that since they are essentially a political group before anything else, they could definitely contribute to the atmosphere and growth of the group in general," he said. Sangam began in 1996 as a vehicle for addressing South Asian women's issues and is specifically trying to boost its male membership. "We want to have a broadened scope this year without forgetting [our original objectives]," Remtulla said. Some of the issues Sangam has explored include how to dispel myths and stereotypes about South Asians, as well as identity issues and the homosexual South Asian experience. Sangam has sponsored various forums and symposia over the past three years to raise awareness about such issues, often co-sponsoring events with the Greenfield Intercultural Center and the South Asian Society.

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