SMC Black Student Association promotes safe space for discussion
Hallie Nolan | Tuesday, September 19, 2017
With a mission statement stating a goal to “serve as a resource and a support community for African-American students during all of their years at Saint Mary’s College,” Senior Makayla Roberts said the new club, Black Student Association (BSA), aimed to foster an inclusive environment on Saint Mary’s campus.
“We all got together to talk about it and we decided that we are going to be here to talk with people and be a safe space, get events planned for Black History Month, and be more involved on campus,” Roberts said.
Senior Taylor Thomas serves as the club’s secretary and said she hopes the club’s presence on campus grows.
“I just want to get more attention and get more girls to join and know that we are here,” Thomas said.
This club also seeks to “improve the quality of the black experience on campus” according to their mission statement. Roberts stressed the importance of BSA.
“I know there were a lot of issues on campus last year … we all got together to make sure it was going to change,” Roberts said.
For Thomas, she said, this is personal.
“People were subtler before. Freshman year, girls asked me if I could teach them how to twerk. There is a room full of girls and they couldn’t ask anyone else? They needed to ask me? Just subtle questions,” Thomas said. “I couldn’t even do my hair in my own dorm room because I didn’t feel comfortable, so I would go to the basement of Le Mans.”
Thomas said an open space to talk about the issues that affect African American students is especially crucial for the association.
“Being able to have an open space to talk about [issues of racism] is important because I’ve had a lot of girls on campus be verbally assaulting whenever I try to speak my mind,” Thomas said. “They always say we’re all one world, we’re all one people and it would just be nice to have a place to talk about how it doesn’t always feel like that for us.”
Another aspect of BSA’s mission statement says they “will assist as a liaison between African-American students and Saint Mary’s College for growth and betterment purposes.”
“Saint Mary’s likes to boast about being oriented towards diversity, but we don’t see it very often on campus,” Thomas said. “Things here are so pricey, like Junior Mom’s weekend. Or the class ring. It’s important because [the College] want[s] to boast diversity and bring these diverse students in but they’re not doing anything to make them feel like they belong here whatsoever.”
The club will meet bi-weekly this year, plan events with other Saint Mary’s clubs and discuss important issues.
“People should join if they want to see a change on campus and to make everyone feel comfortable and have Saint Mary’s be their home,” Roberts said.
“I feel like people might think this is a place just for minorities to come together and blame white people but we’re here to have an open discussion about how we all belong at Saint Mary’s. That’s why anyone should join, black or white,” Thomas said.