Although students may be experiencing a difficult school year because of COVID-19, Black IU students have managed to stay connected. Minority based organizations at IU have held events virtually and kept students informed and unified with one another.
IU organizations such as the Black Student Union, Black Collegians and the Tau Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. have been able to follow through with regularly scheduled events this school year despite COVID-19 restrictions, limited social interaction and a virtual setting.
During the pandemic, these events have given students the opportunity to debrief and connect with others. Although there are not as many social gatherings, these events create opportunities for Black IU students to bond, connect and grow together.
Jada Owens, vice president of the Tau Chapter, said the organization is passionate about giving service to all mankind and makes it a mission to provide spaces for women to feel comfortable.
During events, members share their own stories related to event topics to help attendees open up and feel safe sharing information.
“We just want to make sure that college students will be able to take things away from our events,” Owens said. “Things that they can use to help them grow as individuals.”
Recently, the Tau Chapter hosted their Skee-week, a week of events Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. hosts every year, Owens said.
During The Kode, an event during Skee-week, the organization discussed the girl code — code for attending parties and how to treat friends. This event focused on the importance of not being in competition with one another but encouraging each other.
Kelly Howard, historian for the Black Student Union, said BSU is committed to unifying the Black community. This organization has events on a variety of topics, including mental health and financial literacy.
BSU recently finished up a week of events that included Black Perspectives on Policing, a conversation about the relationship between the Black community and police officers. BSU’s freshman action team led a panel alongside IU Police Department and Bloomington Police Department officials as they discussed ways these communities could work together to foster a more positive relationship between police and the Black community.
All of BSU’s events aren’t too serious, Howard said. “Wild ‘N Out,” which includes various comedy games and challenges, gives attendees a chance to relax and have fun. Howard said this event had a great turnout this year and everyone enjoyed sharing laughter and winding down from school.
“Everything is not always business, especially when you’re just trying to bring Black people together on campus,” Howard said.
Black Collegians, founded in January 2020, has events to amplify Black voices in civil and political engagements. Damorion Page, vice president of the organization, said Black Collegians’ mission is to unite Black individuals and plug them into a network of resources dedicated to keeping them informed.
The organization recently hosted a poetry reading night which shared work from well-known Black poets and pieces from featured readers. This event allowed students to embrace Black History Month through literature and encouraged bonding through those words.
Last semester, during the election season, Black Collegians teamed up with IU National Association of Black Journalists, holding a discussion on politics and voting. This event provided a space for students to come and learn about the political parties and how important it is for attendees to use their voice and vote.