Texas State prides itself on diversity, but the demographics of the student body say otherwise. The institution is categorized as a “PWI,” which means it is a predominantly white institution. With African-American students accounting for only 11.18 percent of Texas State’s demographic, it is important for them to participate in black organizations as often as possible.
There are a handful of black organizations on campus such as The Black Student Alliance, African Student Organization, Black Women United, Black Men United and Women of Gold, to name a few. These organizations welcome all races and ethnicities but are aimed towards Texas State’s black student body.
The main goal for any organization tailored to a specific group of people is to be a safe space for them to express and vent shared experiences without fear of judgment. These organizations can even be therapeutic for students at times.
Being apart of a black organization gives African-American students a greater sense of belonging. For many students, it’s a culture shock to attend a university that does not have demographics that reflect their racial background, especially if they previously went to minority-based schools. Being around people with similar interests and experiences makes adapting to college lifestyle much easier.
Forming connections within one’s own culture opens doors that may not be opened otherwise. For example, if a student is interested in African-American studies or wants to go into a career revolved around black issues, being present in black organizations would put that student on the path to meeting people with common goals.
In fact, African-American faculty members often attend meetings black organizations put on. This heightens the possibility of getting connected with people who could potentially be a future employer and gives black students a strong support system to rely on.
Many African-American students don’t feel the need to be involved in organizations for several reasons. They may feel occupied with their academic and personal lives, have misconceptions of what exactly happens at the meetings or simply don’t see what good could come out of connecting with people from similar backgrounds. Although college life is hectic and demanding, meetings are only once a week and typically run no longer than an hour for most organizations.
It is important to understand that black organizations are not a place where African-American students go to complain about oppression. Meetings cover a wide range of topics including family, friends, relationships and other issues.
Participating in organizations has a lasting impact on students’ futures. If attendance at events drops too low, the organizations lose the funding needed to continue their programs. For prospective students, this means the safe spaces that may attract them are in danger of being taken away. It is essential that these students feel they are welcomed at Texas State, especially because it doesn’t have many black students to begin with.
Being active in black organizations—whether students have a low or high commitment to the organizations—means something. Getting to know peers in black organizations have the power to open doors and change lives. The benefits are endless and vary from person to person, but something positive will always come to students who take time to engage in organizations that are made as safe spaces for them.
– Kindalynn Ortega is a mass communications freshman