Black Affairs Council and NACWC wrap the Black experience with a bonfire

October 7, 2022

Black Affairs Council (BAC) and the National Association of Colored Women’s Club (NACWC) hosted a bonfire on Friday, Sept. 30 at the West Campus Pavillion near Campus Lake from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m as an end to the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Black Experience. 

The Black Experience is put on by BAC, is held at the beginning of the semester and lasts for the first six weeks of school. The goal of the Black Experience is to help Black students get more engaged on campus. Throughout those six weeks different Black Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) host a variety of events, from paint nights and fashion shows to study jams.

Sarah Alli-Brown, a second-year student and the program coordinator for BAC, said she joined because she wanted to be more connected with the Black community on campus.

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“Being in a PWI [Predominantly White institution] trying to maneuver by yourself without black people, people there that have support, [or] people that have been around your whole life, it can be kinda hard and I just love to see people smile,” she said.

Alli-Brown said she put the bonfire together last year, and loves doing it because Black students from all over campus get to come together for a night of fun. 

She said events like the bonfire exposes students to the different Black organizations that they could potentially join and could possibly make them want to do more for the Black community as a whole on campus.

“So I think by seeing the smile on people’s faces and people enjoying the events and wanting […] to be a part of whichever RSO, whether it is a dance RSO whether it’s an RSO that puts on events whether it is a fraternity or sorority, you just make them happy and feel welcomed, Alli-Brown said.”

Kania Dockery, a third-year student and the historian of the NACWC and member of BAC said these RSOs coming together to host this event was a great way to show Black students what they are all about. She said this year not many freshman have been getting involved on campus and they should.

“I feel like they don’t really come out to events like that. It’s important for them to kind of learn, being a Black student at a PWI is important in the way where you need to find people that relate to you that are Black and show Black excellence. I feel it is important that they do get involved,” Dockery said.

Showing Black first-year students more of the resources offered here at SIU and hosting more events will make them feel more comfortable on campus.

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Malachi Moton, a second-year student, said he came to the bonfire because he wanted to get more involved and go out to more events this year.

Eris Golden, a first-year student said it was a good way to get the Black student community together at SIU for a night of fun.

Traseanda Jones, a second-year student and the public relations chair for BAC, said they decided to put on a bonfire so Black students can get out and meet people. Students had a variety of things to do at the event.

“We have s’mores, of course, we have little pits so they go over here and roast your s’mores. […] We also have, like, games. We have hula hoops, we have, like, card games such as Uno so that they could play,” she said. “And then we also have a lot of extra activities that we have for their grade level so that different grade levels can do different things so they can really meet their class.”

Jones said just having Black students together for a night and getting to know one another is a good way to get the connected. 

“We did it because we felt like the Black retention rate is very small, at SIU, so a lot of people, they will come but they would never want to stay. And most of the reason why they felt like that is because they didn’t understand campus and didn’t understand people have power, or or they just simply, just stayed in their dorm rooms all day,” Jones said.

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