By Keotta House
When Saint Mary’s University failed to celebrate Black History Month during the 2009-2010 school year, freshman Ciera Patrick was shocked and decided to take action.
She performed an unofficial survey of 80 SMU students and concluded that many minorities on campus felt they were not being represented by groups and activities on campus.
Patrick included Vice President for Student Development Chris Kendall in her research, and Kendall began to hold panels to discuss diversity issues on campus, which led to the creation of a new organization called Black Students and Allies (BSA).
BSA’s founding members are sophomores Ciera Patrick, Krista Barnes, Jamal Arnold and Miles Dunna.
“Black Students and Allies is an organization on campus that was not only created to give minorities an opportunity to openly express themselves, but also to give them a chance to present to SMU a realistic view of their cultures,” said BSA President Ciera Patrick.
BSA has already thrown a pajama party in September, raised money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and celebrated inner beauty for a week in October. The organization has many more events planned for the future.
“We have a soul food dinner on Nov. 19 that [students] are excited for, and we have a month’s worth of events we have planned during Black History Month,” BSA Vice President Krista Barnes said.
PR and Communications Coordinator Jamal Arnold is especially excited about one particular event.
“Karaoke night is going to be a blast,” he said. “Everyone loves good karaoke, and what better way to bond members of the SMU student body than with the universal language of music?”
These events are important for Black Students and Allies to establish their efforts and help them reach their goal of enduring as a campus club.
“We want to be around to usher in a new attitude toward black culture not just at SMU, but throughout Winona,” said Arnold.