An elegant evening with the MLK Jr. Society

Julia Murdick | Staff Writer |

The Roy Room in Dion Family Student Center was filled on Sunday evening for the first annual Martin Luther King Jr. Society (MLK Jr. Society) formal. The MLK Jr. Society hosted the formal event with dinner, awards, and raffles with the goal of celebrating community and belonging at St. Michael’s College. 

“This is an opportunity to help relieve the stress that comes with not feeling like you belong, especially in a primarily white space,” said Christine Dossou, the president of the MLK Jr. Society. “People want this, this is something that is not only for us but for everyone.”

The MLK Jr. Society was established by St. Michael’s College students in collaboration with the Center for Student Diversity, Empowerment, and Community. 

“The overall mission is to represent Martin Luther King Jr. and what he stood for, and sharing that sense of community here at SMC,” Dossou said. “I want the MLK Jr. Society to be known as something that brings belonging for BIPOC and international students.”

Within five days of the event’s announcement, the MLK Jr. Society’s executive board were compelled to extend their guest list to accommodate 100 people. 

An array of candlelit tables filled the room. The executive board was prepared for the large crowd with a buffet of food from local restaurants such as Sarom’s Cafe and Asian Bistro. 

“We tried to get as much cultural food catered in support of the students we are celebrating,” Dossou said.

After hanging their coats and walking the red carpet, the opening remarks began and people finished taking their seats. 

“This is the best event I have ever been to at Saint Mike’s,” said Olivier Niyonshuti ‘25.

Attendees dined while listening to music, and entered a raffle to win prizes such as a waffle maker, an air fryer, and a 32-inch television. 

The award ceremony began with a slideshow of photos to show appreciation for the MLK Jr. Society and reflect on the work the group has done. 

Students and faculty nominated students for awards including the Emerging Leader Award, the Outstanding Community Service Award, the Athletic Sportsmanship Award, the Student Mentor of the Year, the International Student Community Service Award, the Sunshine Award, and the Kindness Counts Award.

“Saint Mike’s kind of has a diversity problem, I think we all know that, and it has been uplifting to give opportunities to BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] faculty and students to feel like they are more involved on campus,” said Damien Wortheim ’26, the international representative for the MLK Jr. Society. 

The MLK Jr. Society also organizes the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in January. This commemoration event has a collection of speakers, films, and panel discussions to deepen the understanding of bias, prejudice, and racism. 

“Being able to be in a space that is predominantly BIPOC and being able to listen and learn from others’ experiences has been really, really helpful for me,” Worthiem said. 

After dessert and group photos, guests began to take the dance floor. 

“I think this event really brought a sense of community,” Niyonshuti said after the formal. 

After a positive response, the MLK Jr. Society plans to make this formal dinner an annual tradition. “I look forward to having this be a yearly thing,” Dossou said.