The group of students that hosted the Black Student Union informational meeting Feb. 28 tried to make a pitch to sell their organization. They failed.
On that Wednesday evening, room 17 of Anderson Hall was bursting with students – every seat was filled. Groups of students even stood in the back of the room.
It was the largest congregation of black and Latino students in Temple’s history, the hosts said. It was touching to witness so many people taking time out of their schedules to participate in this worthy cause.
But shortly into the meeting, it became clear that the group had poor organization and was not using the fantastic turnout to its advantage.The group broke the No. 1 rule of selling a product or service. It lost its audience.
By plodding through the history of black student unions for almost an hour, it lost the momentum that it had gained leading up to the meeting, through weeks of advertising, flyers and by word of mouth. We didn’t hear about the group’s missions and goals until the latter part of the meeting.
Perhaps the students should have begun with their list of grievances, namely the decline in minority enrollment
here and why they believe it is happening. Moments later, the most disappointing
part of the gathering arrived.
It became clear that the meeting was not a discussion. It was a dictation in which those who had the courage to challenge any claim or idea were chastised.
During the question and answer period, Temple Student Government President Raysean Hogan addressed the crowd and respectfully said he disagreed with claims, specifically that Temple has been purposely accepting
fewer minorities to the university. As he spoke, an audience member yelled, “What is your question?” In the classiest way, Hogan said that due to that comment, it was clear to him that the meeting was not a discussion and that the person was there for the wrong reasons.
A Black Student Union here should be about raising questions and investigating issues. It should not be an organization that berates students for offering constructive criticism or opposing views. After the meeting, people referred to Hogan’s comments saying they were glad he spoke out because they felt the same way, but were afraid to say so. This should never be an issue in a group that propagates student unity. No one will join an organization that he or she is afraid of.
We commend Hogan for standing up for Temple at an opportune moment, interjecting an opposing stance, and remaining professional when others could not extend to him that same courtesy.
Another unfortunate point in the meeting came when an audience member who wanted to remain anonymous (go figure) asked, “Why can’t blacks stand alone?”
We won’t answer that one . . .The hosts of the meeting also couldn’t have answered more incorrectly when asked what role non-minority students would play in the Black Student Union. Ibram Rogers, one of the group’s leaders, said that it would be up to the non-minority students to decide.
If someone has an issue that needs to be addressed, talking to students who share the same complaints is not going to solve anything. Non-minority students should be included in this organization, so that differing parties can discuss the issues that affect all of us as members of this student body.
We are not discouraging the formation of a Black Student Union on Main Campus. The issue is simple. The group of students leading the charge for this organization needs to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate their mission and goals. We cannot throw our support behind any student organization whose main goal – at this point – appears to be one that divides our student body.