Colors @ CMU 2-4-1k Grand Challenge seeks to promote interactions between student organizations

Credit: Courtesy of Chrystal Thomas Credit: Courtesy of Chrystal Thomas

For one week during the month of October, Colors @ CMU, an organization that seeks to ignite conversations about racial issues on the Carnegie Mellon campus in an effort to bring together people of differing backgrounds, will be hosting its first ever 2-4-1k Grand Challenge.

The 2-4-1k Grand Challenge will take place from Oct. 1 to Oct. 7. Teams, consisting of two recognized student organizations, one of which must be a multicultural organization, will be tasked with utilizing a monetary budget with the goal of collaboratively developing a project that will make a positive impact on the Carnegie Mellon community. Teams are free to create any project they desire to ultimately satisfy two goals: The project must be community based, directly involve and increase interactions between Carnegie Mellon students, and it must show tangible results by the end of the week.

The aim of the project is based on Colors @ CMU’s goal to bring together members of different student organizations whose paths would not normally cross. “While there are many amazing cultural organizations out there at CMU, you don't really see them interacting with each other,” said Chrystal Thomas, a senior biological sciences major and creator of the challenge. Colors @ CMU hopes this challenge will increase collaboration between multicultural organizations at Carnegie Mellon. “We would love to see students involved in OM (The Organization for Indian Spirituality and Culture) feeling comfortable and interested enough to collaborate with SPIRIT and vice versa, or to see SALSA (Spanish and Latin Student Organization) collaborate with ASA (Asian Students Association),” Thomas said. “While these groups seem [to] have different interests, I believe they are actually quite similar.”

Thomas believes this challenge will help show various student organizations the aspects that they have in common, which can ultimately motivate these individuals to step outside of their comfort zones. This can allow the members of the organizations not only to connect over the things they have in common, but also to create a desire to gain new perspectives from students with different cultural or racial backgrounds from their own.

While the first year of college is when many seek out their niche on campus, this often creates a level of comfort that, over time, makes it harder to break barriers that inhibit us from engaging with other campus communities. The 2-4-1k Grand Challenge seeks to affirm the notion that there is not a limited time when one can partake in self-discovery and that we should be open to reigniting the bright-eyed freshmen desire of meeting new and different people.

“I think the idea of the 2-4-1K challenge is to give an opportunity to break that barrier and encourage interaction among different people,” Sharon Wu, junior chemistry major and Colors @ CMU e-board member, stated. “In that way, I hope that the challenge will embody what it truly means to be a diverse campus. Having diversity should not be some statistic that admission officers stick on paper, but rather something incoming students look forward to, as they will be able to learn new perspectives and, in turn, grow as people.”

Registration for the 2-4-1K Grand Challenge will be open from Sept. 10 to Sept. 24. There will be an information session on Sept. 10 at Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall, room 103 from noon to 1 p.m. The winning teams will be announced on Oct. 14. The first place winning team will receive a $1,000 cash prize, and second place winners will receive $400. There are no restrictions on these cash prizes, so each team can decide to use it as they please.

Any questions about the challenge, such as a request to see an overview of the rules of the competition, may be sent to

“We're really looking forward to seeing all of the great projects in October!” Thomas said.