While studying at Mills College several years ago, alumna Adrianna Hutchinson noticed that the same eight to 10 students were doing everything for the clubs on campus, from posting flyers to organizing events.
“They seemed to be competing for, rather than sharing, resources,” Hutchinson said.
Having assessed Mills’ need, Hutchinson decided to form an organization that would unify groups on campus. She dubbed it “jamaa,” the Swahili word for “family.”
“Next, I had to find a name that actually fit with the acronym JAMAA,” said Hutchinson, who finally settled on “Joining All Mills Affinity Groups and Associations.”
JAMAA acted as a liaison between different student clubs. For example, if one student was posting flyers for one club event, that same student could post flyers for another club’s event.
“It decreases the quantity of work, while maintaining the quality,” Hutchinson said.
Following Hutchinson’s graduation, JAMAA became JAM (Joining All Mills), which has grown to include not just students, but Mills faculty and staff as well, who were feeling disconnected from student life.
JAM hosted an on-campus reception for students, faculty and staff on Feb 13 to celebrate and foster a sense of community and create an opportunity for dialogue about diversity.
“It’s like a big Mills family reunion,” said Rebecca Freeman, Associated Students of Mills College (ASMC) Vice President and Diversity Committee Chair.
JAM “connects organizations to build coalitions and works to have effective programming,” Freeman said. “JAM is a way for clubs and organizations to network, as well as share resources and ideas about social justice.”
Due to recent changes at Mills, including the loss of various staff and faculty members, it is now more important than ever that the Mills community remain connected, according to Freeman.
“JAM is about brainstorming, collaborating and hopefully organizing around existing ideas or new innovations,” Freeman said.
While JAM has undergone changes of its own, Hutchinson is pleased with the direction it seems to be headed in.
“JAM, or JAMAA, is meant to bring people together,” Hutchinson said, “It adapts to what students need.”
Associated Dean of Students Angela Batista is enthusiastic about JAM, describing it as “the result of the strong commitment and efforts of students around social justice.”
Hutchinson described the Feb 13 reception as a chance to “facilitate discussion between different groups.”
Freeman planned a special activity for the reception: a JAM wish jar.
“We write our hopes and wishes for Mills’ future on little slips of paper, and put them in a jam jar, creating a time capsule,” Freeman said. “However, we haven’t decided yet whether the wishes will be for every four years or every ten years.”
JAM is prepared to move forward as well.
“As students change, JAM should change with them,” Hutchinson said.
The organization is, first and foremost, a place of equality and acceptance.
“JAM is intended to promote a safe and healthy community for all identities to be represented,” Freeman said.
For more information about JAM, email firstname.lastname@example.org.