Black Student Union talks about unity, leadership

Samuel Nusbaum, Contributing Writer

Topics such as Black unity, getting involved on campus and leadership were all topics of discussions at a Black Student Union panel called Real Talk with BSU.

The panel was made up of Yolanda Williams, an academic adviser for the Gateway program, Mona Davenport, director of Minority Affairs, Maggie Burkhead, director of student support services, senior marketing major Cydne Garrett and senior biology major Torri Franklin.

When it came to black unity, the overall feeling from both the panel and the attendants is that unity is stagnant.

Davenport blames social media and the lack of socialization. She said BSU used to have a Monday night bowling league.

Williams said the Charleston/Mattoon Room was standing room only in the era before cell phones, and has a hard time believing people are not showing up to meetings in the era of social media.

Williams said there are opportunities for people to come together, from union parties which are free to attend and events thrown by the African-American Greek organizations which cost very little to attend.

Williams pointed out the only time people come together is when a racial incident occurs. “If we were here talking about somebody calling someone the ‘n word’ and they did not look like you then everybody would be here mad,” Williams said.

Davenport said the blame lies with cellphones and social media, with everyone constantly using their phones they do not want to go out and have a conversation face to face and meeting people.

“We went to the library to use the computers so everyone went to the library. That is how you met people, that is how you socialize,” Davenport said.

Burkhead said while she was not Greek, she would go to their events and support what they were doing, and she noticed a division between Greeks and non-Greeks on campus.

When it came to leadership, Burkhead said it is important to be involved because it makes people more marketable.

“They want to see that leadership role — were you events coordinator? Were you social chair?” Burkhead said. “Because the number one skill employers are looking for is really good communication.”

Davenport said she values extracurricular involvement as well.

“I will take a 2.5 GPA for a graduate assistant or a professional staff over a 4.0 GPA if I know they have been involved in organizations and they served leadership roles. That way I know they are going to come in and be able to give back,” Davenport said.

Black Student Union is planning on handing out ice cream from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Bridge Lounge and is renting out EIU Lanes for cosmic bowling from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.


Samuel Nusbaum can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].