November proved to be an active month for college students. From papers to turkey bowls and Native American heritage to elections, November served as the perfect time of year to engage students before the final home stretch.
In collaboration with the Black Students’ Union, the Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Mu Sigma Chapter, capitalized on the month by hosting a series of panel discussions about hot topics in minority communities. Their main goal for “Political Action Month” was to engage students and encourage involvement.
The month kicked off with the annual national Black Solidarity Day. Every first Monday of November, black students on campuses across the nation wore black attire and refrained from speaking as a symbol of black solidarity. As the BSU flyers described the day, it showed that collective silence is more powerful than any words that can be spoken. This year, BSU students painted the tunnels black on Oct. 31 and met on the steps of Rush Rhees Library the next day for a group photo. Then, it was time for Political Action Month to begin.
Of all the events, the one that seemed to evoke the most emotions was “The Time is Now,” a discussion about diversity on the River Campus. Some students expressed discontent with the meager 1.8 percent and 1.2 percent of black and Hispanic populations, respectively. Others argued that there isn’t enough effort from other groups in reaching out to minority groups. However, junior Angela Ketterer saw the situation a bit differently.
“BSU serves a great purpose in bringing together the black community, and I wish that more people would attend,” Ketterer said. “However, the name under which we operate is exclusive in itself. Saying that BSU is open to everyone is more of a saying than an actual happening. It’s hard to rally other students when our focus is usually on the Black student body, and not on including others in expanding knowledge about black culture.”
However, Ketterer added that BSU is heading in the right direction with co-sponsored events like “Frat Boys and Poets,” which is a biweekly poetry reading co-sponsored by Alpha Delta Phi and LOGOS. There was also an event co-sponsored with the College Republicans and Democrats at the end of Political Action Month.
While the evening sparked great conversation, some students were hoping that more concrete suggestions would be offered. Sophomore Ashanna Lynch noted that there were some ideas presented about upperclassmen getting more involved in the recruitment process, as well as the Multicultural Visitation Program (MVP). But still, Lynch was not convinced that participants were willing to take definitive actions following the discussion.
“In my opinion, people had great ideas, but no one seemed ready to change their ways and become a part of the solution,” she said.
The last event, “Is Obama Living Up to the Hype?” was co-sponsored by College Democrats and College Republicans. The night started off with a presentation of facts by the mediator, Alpha and the Rochester Institute of Technology Alumnus Richie Bailey, about Obama’s presidency, including his efforts for school reform, healthcare reform, the economy and the war in Iraq. But it was the debate that followed that sparked the most interest amongst attendees. For Ketterer, the debate inspired her to do exactly what the entire month entailed — that is, to take political action.
“I’ve never been into politics, but this discussion really made me excited to see other students who know so much,” Ketterer said. “I even signed up to be on the mailing list for the College Democrats. There is so much to learn, if we just go out there and look.”