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Black RSOs coming together for Black students
September 9, 2022
Black Registered Student Organizations (RSO), fraternities and sororities came together on Sept. 1 at the Student Center Pavillion to show what opportunities are available for Black students on campus.
Suliat Akewusola, a fourth year student and president of the Black Women’s Task Force said the purpose of her RSO is to bring Black women together here at Southern Illinois University (SIU).
“This is a[n] RSO that everybody can join. We don’t have any requirements. We just have girls coming together because this is a predominantly White school, so we do want the girls to have somebody who looks like them so that they can feel comfortable around campus,” Akewusola said.
She said Black Women’s Task Force is more than just an RSO, it is a sisterhood for Black women and brings them together by hosting various events, like girl talks, community service projects and more.
Akewusola said, because the Black organizations on campus do not get as much attention as they should, it makes it hard for students to find people in their community.
“It shows other Black students there are people like you. You could be like me, my freshman year. I was probably the only Black kid in a White class,” Akewusola said. “I didn’t think that there were a lot of Black people, but the whole time [there was] Black community down here, it’s a lot of people. You just got to know the right people.”
She said when Black students are able to find people within their community running RSOs, it helps them feel a sense of community here at SIU.
Vernecelyn Allen, the faculty advisor and founder for the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP), said she started the RSO as a way for Black students in the Aerospace field to have a community.
William Sowell, the current president of OBAP and Bisola Saliu, a member of OBAP, said having the Black RSO fair is important because not many of the Black RSO’s get a lot of recognition and it makes it harder for other Black students to find a community for them.
Allen said it is vital for Black organizations to be out and about at SIU so that Black students know they have a community on campus that wants to see them succeed.
RSO’s were not the only ones that were active at the fair, Greek organizations were also ready to meet Black students and talk to them as well.
Britney Morgan, a sorority member in Sigma Gamma Rho said when Black organizations do come together, it helps expand the community and helps Black students see what the college experience is like.
Kevin Turner, a graduate of SIU and previous president of Alpha Phi Alpha, and Brandon Morgan, current president of the fraternity, said they decided to join the fraternity because of the brotherhood they saw.
According to Turner, the history of the fraternity and the brothers being active on campus and helping out the community drew him to joining.
For Morgan, seeing his brother being a part of the Alphas and seeing the commitment solidified his decision to join.
“I’ve always wanted to be an Alpha since I was a little kid. My big brother, he was Alpha at SIU as well. So he’s pretty much my role model. So, coming down here, I had the opportunity to meet bros for myself to see if I like that fraternity as much as I saw from my brother,” Morgan said.
Both Turner and Morgan said they reflect the Alphas values well by being gentlemen and helping out wherever they can.
“Give your best at everything you do. We try to be as close to perfection as possible. You gotta walk around being a gentleman, nobleman at all times. It’s a high name being an Alpha,” Turner said.
Morgan said Black organizations are being pushed more to the forefront with the new administration.
“So, administration has been better with keeping us involved with everything. But I feel like we just scratched the surface on how much we really can be involved on campus for everyone out there even bigger than our community on campus,” Morgan said.
He said, while the administration is giving more groups representation, there is still a long way to go until these organizations are advertised more at SIU.
Turner said when Black students come together for events such as these, it creates a new energy that brings people together and makes connections even stronger.
“The school needs to see more leaders and groups together and the more we do it, the more of an impact we have on this campus and for SIU in general,” Turner said. […] “It’s a whole different vibe just seeing all black organizations in one area because years ago it was spread out but when we’re together it is like we are unstoppable.”
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