Letter to the Editor: Keep the Black Togetherness Organization the way it is

By SIU alumna Ivana Hill

It has come to our attention that SIUC is making a move toward inclusiveness and diversity. The problem here is that there is no definition of what is or isn’t “inclusive,” instead the university uses their protected definition of inclusivity to justify taking away places that were made for the students who need inclusion.

Marginalized students’ input is greatly needed to fix this problem. Since they understand and deal with these issues daily, these students know what can and should be done to truly bring about the change that SIUC desires.

As marginalized students, we have few places of comfort that we can go to in order to discuss many of the places of discomfort that plague SIU. Having and keeping a safe space improves the well-being of the these students.


The university wants to promote inclusivity and diversity, but has resisted creating safe spaces on campus. 

This is the main purpose of the Black Togetherness Organization.

However, students have heard that BTO will move from University Housing to become a regular registered student organization. Students are worried if BTO is turned into a regular RSO, it will be easier to get rid of if it suffers from inactivity. Not to mention, its mission is for students who live in the residence halls.

BTO works to empower SIUC students living in the residence halls by focusing on academics, cultural education and political education as well as social events to promote togetherness. This organization affects many students who live on East Campus and should also have the access to impact the students on West Campus as well.

Not only does BTO execute its mission statement, it acts as a safe space for students on East Campus to speak on problems that SIUC doesn’t seem to want to face.

BTO has been on campus for decades as a housing RSO — why is it now a problem that it’s a housing RSO?

Over the past few months, BTO has weighed its options, from turning into a normal RSO to trying to understand what the school means by “be more inclusive.” If SIUC decides it is not in the best interest of its students to keep BTO as a housing RSO, that would take away one of few spaces where minorities feel like they are at home after being in a society that doesn’t promise fair treatment, even on campus.


As for its location, what will happen to Grinnell Hall? BTO is located in an important place on East Campus, making it easier for the residents to have access to it. 

As some know, marginalized students have a different way of living, different social issues and participate in different activities. This isn’t meant to divide the campus — it provides escapes where they can talk about the issues that directly affect them without having to change their opinion or tone of voice.

The location is also provides a new and different way of living that can be experienced by any student on this campus. It gives them the power and control over that small environment that they have a voice in, making it very important that it stays where it is, for the good and well-being of future students.

Ivana Hill is an alumna from Jackson, Miss.