On Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 1:00pm, I attended the BSA (Black Student Alliance) workshop. In this workshop, they addressed the various needs of African-American students here at BSU and what needs to be met to address the needs and avoid the stereotypes of the African-American culture.
There were 5 representatives from the BSA present at the workshop, and the main speaker was a 28 year old from Atlanta, Georgia. He started by asking a question, “Why are we here?” from an African-American’s perspective. The answer was, “Why not?” People usually assume that they come to this school because of sports. He explained a personal experience where he was at a football game selling drinks and a 12 yr old boy asked him why he wasn’t out on the field playing. He explained to the boy that not all African-Americans are in college to play sports. The boy just got a confused look on his face.
The speaker then asked, “What contributes to this assumption?” Apparently, most of the African-Americans in BSU ads are athletes. He explained that this creates a strong implication in the minds of people that social acceptance is reserved for black athletes. Also, BSU is a very white culture. Out of the 19,000 students at BSU, 80% are of white origin, and only 1.9% are African-American.
The speaker then explained that increasing the cultural exposure on campus would improve BSU’s cultural knowledge, cultural contributions, and channels of communication between cultures. This is definitely something that is lacking at a University that is striving to be metropolitan. He stated that there are already efforts to improve this, such as the MLK events, Black History Month events, and diversity requirements. He said that we still need to improve other areas of BSU, for example, offer classes such as Sociology 306: Sociology of African Americans, hire more black faculty (we currently only have 3 African-American faculty members), and offer more general support for the African American students. The speaker went on to suggest that the Administration should take a more active role to support the African-American population.
And finally, the speaker stated that the students need to take a more active role in learning more about the different cultural backgrounds at BSU and that we should strive to not just say “hi” to them, but really understand their culture and avoid various “taboos” of the African-American culture.
Afterwards, the discussion opened to the 20 or so people that attended the discussion. There were various topics discussed, such as: what actions the students and administration should take to understand more about the African-American culture.
Overall I thought that the presentation was very well organized and effective to the audience. I gathered that the presentation was more focused on getting the school more aware and focused on helping students understand different cultures to avoid statewide and national stereotypes. It was a very successful presentation, and I left the workshop more curious about what I can do to get involved in the BSA. It is not at all a “superiority” group. On the contrary, all they are trying to do is make BSU a better environment for minorities. I’m also curious about why not very many students are involved in the program. I think that the BSA program is headed in the right direction and that there is a lot of room for improvement in this regard at BSU.