Iona University’s Italian Heritage and Culture in America Club


Photo made on Canvas

Iona’s newest cultural club is celebrating Italian heritage and culture across campus.

Niomi Nunez, Features & Lifestyle Editor

The Italian Heritage and Culture in America or IHAC club is one of Iona University’s newest multicultural clubs. The club started in October of 2022, after sophomore Logan Balsan noticed the lack of cultural events on campus during Italian heritage month.  

“In October, when it was Italian Heritage month, I noticed not many events going on to celebrate Italian heritage,” Balsan said. “I know that there are other clubs regarding other cultures, and I thought ‘let’s start one [for Italian Heritage].” 

Iona University previously had an Italian Heritage and Culture club in 2017, but the club came to a halt for unknown reasons. After learning this, Balsan saw this as an opportunity to reintroduce and refurbish the club, leading him to become the president of the IHAC. 

Iona University is home to many multicultural clubs, including IHAC, that honor and celebrate many different identities. These clubs operate under the umbrella organization SLAM or the Student Leader Alliance for Multiculturalism. Other clubs include the ASL club, Bailando Con Sazon, the Black Student Union, Queer Straight Alliance, the Organization of Latinx Students, the West Indian Student Establishment and the South Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures interest group. Like the organization SLAM, Balsan believes that multiculturalism can apply to anyone. 

“I think every culture should have a club on campus,” Balsan said. “Everyone should have a say on campus, and they should be able to teach everyone about their culture.” 

Balsan also compliments the work of the other cultural clubs on campus, saying that all of the individual clubs work together to create a cultural flow across campus.  

“I think other cultural groups are doing a great job with their respective culture,” Balsan said. “They are doing a good job promoting themselves and helping each other promote each other’s club.” 

Coming from a large Italian family, Balsan was also inspired to start the cultural club to follow in the footsteps of his late grandfather.  

“My grandfather was a big Italian American cultural advocate; he was a member of the Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, this big pro-Italian American,” Balsan said. “He was the president of our local chapter down on Long Island.” 

For Balsan, Italian heritage is all about family and the preservation of traditions across all generations. Having been inspired by his grandfather and family, preservation of the culture is what Balsan hopes to achieve with his club. 

“I want to make sure, like my grandfather did as the president of the Sons of Italy, that our culture is still here, our culture is not forgotten and our culture will grow,” Balsan said.  “I think with my dedication to my family and the culture itself I know we can make an impact here on Iona University’s campus.” 

Since its reopening, the club and its mission has attracted several members, including freshman and secretary of the IHAC Club, Jessica Caruso. Before the club’s return to campus, Caruso was surprised to know that there wasn’t an Italian heritage club.  

Coming from a very big Italian family, I was surprised to find out that Iona didn’t have an Italian club,” Caruso said.  

Like Balsan, Caruso associates Italian heritage with this feeling of family above all else. As secretary of the club, Caruso wanted to make sure other students felt a sense of “family” upon joining IHAC.  

I wanted to help find a way for Italians, and others of course, across campus to connect and feel as though they were part of a family too,” Caruso said.   

For its members and executive board, the IHAC club has been a platform for raising awareness of a culture that many students are proud to be a part of. The club is a new channel to help diversify Iona’s campus and make all students feel welcome. 

“Having an Italian Heritage club, I believe will help spread awareness and shed light on what the Italian culture is all about and give us an opportunity to express how proud we are of our heritage,” Caruso said.  

The club is not only limited to Italian American students. Balsan and other e-board member encourage students of all backgrounds to come and be a part of the “family” that is IHAC. 

Next semester the club hopes to continue expanding, while hosting plenty of educational and cultural events.