So another student in my Women’s Studies classes who I also consider a friend has decided to take up a cause to reinstate the African American Cultural Center at Old Dominion University where we go to school.
Morgan is working with a group called Generation Forward, whose mission statement says : “Generation Forward is part of the nationwide movement to re-assert the value of Black lives, to create real, lasting change in the community.”
So Generation Forward has begun a grassroots campaign to have a Black Student Union reinstated on Old Dominion University Campus. There used to be a safe space for the African American students to meet on campus, but it was closed in 2008 due to expansion of residential housing. There are other safe spaces available for other marginalized groups to meet, such as the Women’s Center, GLBT Housing, a space for Chinese students, Filipino students among others. However, there is no space set aside for black students. Here is the executive summary:
Black Student Union at Old Dominion University Executive Summary
In 2008, the Hugo A. Owens African American Cultural Center was closed, due to residential area expansion, after serving the campus community for seventeen years. A haven to all who had the opportunity to experience it, the center was a prized jewel to the campus community. In its absence, the university has significantly decreased institutional funding toward Black programming and cultural awareness. There is no longer a central safe space for Black students to commune while accommodations for other marginalized groups have been made (i.e. the Women’s Center, the Safe Space Committee, Lavender House — a living arrangement for LGBT students, the Confucius Institute to promote understanding between US citizens and Chinese culture, and the Filipino American Center). Currently, the Black community makes up 46% of on campus students and 22% of the student body as a whole. With such a large amount, making our university the most diverse in the state, it is also time to make it the most inclusive in the state and reinstate the African American Cultural Center as a Black Student Union. Black students bring in an excess of $3,000,000 in student activities fees each year, but are invested in at a rate close to $6 per student, per year, in cultural programming from student organizations alone. From alumni and faculty who remember Owens House, to the students who’ve never gotten a chance to experience such a space, it is important that we make this opportunity available for prospective students in the future.
So what does a Black Student Union at Old Dominion look like? Ideally, this building will house one large event space, multiple meeting spaces, organizational offices for Black student organizations, and an administrative office for a director and two assistant directors devoted to academic success, institutional equity, community outreach, and cultural awareness and programming. While this space will function as safe space for Black students and anyone else interested in enhancing their cultural awareness, we also have a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between Old Dominion and the campus community. The Union’s interior is only a starting point, where historical images pertaining to Blacks in Hampton Roads will be showcased. From there, mentoring programs, college student to youth and professional to college student, will be established with the community at large.
The Union will serve as a space that promotes and maximizes academic excellence, community outreach, recruitment and retention of Black students, and supportive programming centered around Black culture and the African Diaspora. It will also provide a wide range of support and resources that include opportunities for leadership development, mentoring services, graduate school workshops, career services, informal counseling and advisement, networking opportunities, internships, and more. While all of these services are valuable, the most important goal of the Union is to foster critical concern for, and understanding of, Black and African Diasporic history, arts, politics, and culture.
The Union serves as a vehicle to promote cultural and racial understanding, build community, and foster appreciation for Black culture. It is imperative that this facility return to Old Dominion University so that we can all call ourselves members of not only the most diverse campus in Virginia, but also, the most inclusive.
I think the mission of her group has merit, and a Black Student Union on campus is needed. Please take a moment to sign her petition.
All cultures are valid, all cultures are important. We need to ensure that we are not attending to some cultures needs and not others, particularly when the culture in question is almost 1/2 of the student body. Please support Morgan, Generation Forward, and all of the black students at ODU, and sign the petition!
Thank you all!!!