(THE PICKET)—A Black Student Union that aims to allow minorities at Shepherd University to be recognized in a positive light has been organized by two Shepherd students.
The union is the brainchild of Naim Muhammad, a third year student and captain of the Shepherd Rams basketball team, and Micah Johnson, a graduate student.
It’s an outgrowth of The Talented Ten, an organization created by Johnson. The union’s creators say they hope that through the new organization, their voices can be heard and taken into account with all university decisions. Most importantly, it could allow understanding of life through the binoculars of the minority.
“In a predominantly white institution, I think it’s important to have infinity groups that advocate for the under-represented population, and that is what the Black Student Union will be. It will be the foundation and platform for the black student population to have a voice and be able to come together in a unity based way to create programs and collaborate with other organizations in the name of academic excellence,” Johnson said.
With all of today’s issues that go on in the United States that are controversial, one would think it would spark great conversation among university communities—inspiring all people of different ethnic backgrounds to come together and voice their opinions or concerns respectfully, but without a place of opportunity to do so peoples’ voices will continue to fall on faint ears. The Black Student Union will be the organization that provides the microphone for these voices.
Naim Muhammad said it was the perfect time to start the Black Student Union.
“With all of today’s issues, with all of the things going on in our country, we could spark great conversations on the matters among campus. I felt that these conversations weren’t taking place, and it’s not necessarily that people weren’t talking about it but they weren’t being talked about it as a community,” Muhammad said. “The Black Student Union will provide that platform for all people of different backgrounds, black, white, etc. to come together and discuss these issues because I feel we all are impacted by what goes on in society.”
Issues like police brutality, poverty in the black community, stereotypes and controversial statements in the media will be some of the topics discussed within the organization.
“No issues are too big or small to be discussed; it can be an issue from our own Shepherdstown community or something that is taking place in another part of the country. It all matters to us,” Muhammad said.
“We may not be the experts on particular situations, but we will at least be laying the platform down for the discussion to take place and to bring awareness to people. By taking this effort I feel it will unify campus a great deal because they know the conversion is there,” Muhammad said.
Besides being an organization that won’t be afraid to touch on controversial topics, the leaders of the Black Student Union said it will be an organization that will be dedicated to bringing out the best in people and shining light on their inner leadership qualities.
The Black Student Union will comprise of the Talented Ten, a mentor program that will be offered to new members.
“The Talented Ten is in memory of W.E.B Du Bois who believed that it was going to take the top ten percent of intellectuals of a population of people, we’re talking about the black population, to uplift the remaining 90 percent. So through the Talented Ten mentor program our goal is to mirror that type of uplift and uplift the community and bring to light leaders who may not be recognized as leaders and also bring out leadership qualities from within people who may not know they possess them,” Johnson said. “We really want to take the school by storm positively and influence the institution to the point that they will gain more people interested in coming to Shepherd. They will see that there is an active group of people that look like them, and now Shepherd doesn’t look like a school that just caters to one group of people but to a diverse population of people,” Johnson added.
The Black Student Union is all about giving back to the community, helping shape the image and character of future members as well as helping members prepare for life after college by establishing connections and using their degrees, the leaders said. Through campus events that are beneficial to the entire student body, the BSU will collaborate with all organizations to show the community the unity of this campus, they added.
“We want to have a lot of events that advocate for mental health, health awareness, sexual awareness, as well as get in the community and do clothes drives, food drives and truly help out those who are without,” Johnson said.
“Everything we do as a Black Student Union will fall back on our three core values: community, leadership and etiquette,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad added, “The Black Student Union organization is one that will be setting the standard for years to come. Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of something great, to be part of history.”
Da’shawn Long is a staff writer for The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Instagram @sirswave.