A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of talking to The Detente Collective, an organization which “strives to give communities what they need to foster positive social, educational, economic, and personal growth”. This group is made up of 3 SMU students: Reagan Mcginnis, Sam Westfall and RaSun Kazadi. Together they have started a massive movement within our campus that encourages students to get involved with issues facing the larger Dallas community.
I left this interview feeling inspired, hopeful and proud to be a part of the SMU student body and I know the readers will feel the same way. My hope is that through this interview, students can get to know this group a little better and offer them all of the support they need to keep fueling their numerous initiatives.
Why the need for The Detente Collective?
Reagan: Essentially we saw a lack of engagement, especially with people our age on our campus considering issues impacting the greater Dallas community. Ra noticed a big gap in the funding of public schools in our community so we decided that that was where we could step in and make a change.
RaSun: Yeah, sometimes people feel alienated from things that do not specifically affect them. We want to bridge that gap and help people in the process.
Sam: I definitely think that sometimes it’s hard to move past conversations about problems in society, and The Detente Collective moves that conversation to action. There was an opportunity to rise and we took it.
Why do you think there is a gap between SMU students and the greater Dallas community?
RaSun: I think we are distracted by a lot of things on campus. You would have to go out of the SMU community to realize that there is more to Dallas than just our campus, a few places in Uptown, a few places in Deep Ellum, etc.
I know you all have had a focus on public school funding recently – is that The Detente Collective’s main effort, or just one of many?
Reagan: It is definitely one of many things. That is just what we are focusing on right now and we were lucky enough to get a significant amount of support off the bat. This is something that we want to grow into a multifaceted effort. We want to address things like food insecurity, homelessness, access to clean water, health services and things like that. However, we have found that in most cities in the United States you can root back issues to education, so we definitely feel that the supply initiative is a great one because it changes the whole community.
If your group had no budget or financial implications what would be your first project in the City of Dallas?
RaSun: If there was no budget we would have an after school program, a lunch program, computer labs in every public school as well as libraries. We would definitely also donate to hire more teachers and pay teachers more too.
Reagan: Honestly the sky’s the limit for us. We want to take this as large as we can make it. We are thinking of when we can take this to other cities and maybe even take it national.
Sam: Our end goal is to have a national effort that will help anyone that needs help.
So The Detente Collective is not just serving children?
RaSun: No, we want to get our hand in anywhere that needs our help. We want to help anyone who has been pushed to the outskirts of society and may be constantly ignored.
How can SMU students help your mission?
Reagan: We are starting to sell merchandise right now that will help raise money for all our initiatives so students can certainly look into that. We are also looking to get fraternities and sororities involved in our mission as a way to fundraise. Anyone who wants to help can always reach out to us on @detentecollective, there is always something to do.
RaSun: The biggest thing is for people to be aware, and that happens by actually getting out in the community.
How does your group’s background affect the group’s mission and culture?
Sam: I have been raised in a great household and I recognize that I had things that other people may not have had the access to. I think this has pushed me to want to give back to my community in any way possible.
Reagan: For me I grew up in a family where service was very important, and it was about understanding that I had opportunities that other people didn’t have and my parents really emphasized this.
Why the name The Detente Collective?
Sam: The name detente comes from French philosophy and it means “to ease tension or hostility” and I think there is definitely a need for that in our world right now. Young people are piloting this initiative because we are taking action instead of just talking about things.
A special thank You to Reagan Mcginnis, Sam Westfall and RaSun Kazadi for taking the time to chat with me about their amazing organization!
Through my own experience I have found that the easiest way to keep updated with The Detente Collective and their latest volunteer opportunities is through their instagram @detentecollective.
If you are reading this and feel inspired to help this group keep doing what they are doing, their donation platforms are linked below.