With some applauding their ambition and others questioning their purpose, an organizing committee is showing no signs of slowing down its effort to form a Black Student Union.
The BSU organizing committee held its first meeting Wednesday, following last month’s mass assembly where more than 300 students were present. About 40 people attended the meeting, which was held for individuals interested in holding leadership positions.
Though it insists that every member of the growing BSU is a leader, the committee said it hopes some students are willing to take on more responsibility and initiative.
Students who expressed interest in leadership roles participated in an interview process, which began last week.
The committee also outlined their structural plans for the BSU, which includes an executive council composed of student representatives from each college, an advisory board, a steering committee and student organization representatives. Each will have the responsibility to carry out the needs of the 10 interest-based committees.
Education and children, culture and history, arts and entertainment and activism are some of the committees constructed to address the political, social, cultural and academic elements of the BSU.
Ibram Rogers, a graduate student in the African American Studies department and a committee member, said a thorough system is needed to address the issues that black and Latino students face.
During the meeting, audience members
asked questions about the relationship between the potential BSU officers and Temple’s administration.
Joseph Desmond McKinson Jr., a junior English and history double major and committee member, said the relationship is a work-in-progress.
“There is some form of relationship, but it’s not like we’re confirmed 100 percent,”
he said. “I do believe we’re both willing
to sit at the table and discuss this and move to a conclusion.”
The organizing committee also addressed
the negative response the BSU has received. According to both Rogers and McKinson,
there have been some students who called the organization “separatist” and “racist”
for using the term “black” in its title.
“If the BSU is a separatist, discriminatory
organization, that means every single organization in the world is a separatist, discriminatory organization,” Rogers said.
“Every organization has an organizing principle.”
McKinson said he “respectfully disagrees”
with the idea that a BSU is separatist or discriminatory and is confused as to why a move of unification has been interpreted as a move of severance.
“We are open to critique, but we are not open to divisiveness,” Rogers added. In order to avoid any further separation among black and Latino organizations, the committee held a “Unity Meeting” Sunday to encourage all black and Latino student organizations to meet and network. Rogers also said the committee hopes to eliminate any scheduling conflicts between student organizations under the BSU.
Van Strother, a freshman pre-law major, said he is looking forward to working with the BSU but has some apprehensions.
Strother said he does not think the committeecares about Temple administration.
“Temple is the administration,” he said. “If Temple is going to say ‘no’ to them, where are they going to be able to have their meeting? “I want this to be done in the right way. Something needs to give.”
Chesney Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.