Students Weigh in on Black History Month


Photo courtesy of Jakayla Toney, Unsplash

Tim Belizaire, Staff Writer

Despite minimal participation from faculty, the Black Student Alliance (BSA) is going forward with and celebrating Black History Month.

On Feb. 8, the club hosted its Hot Seat event where several topics involving the black community on campus were brought up. Among the topics were interracial dating, marital expectations and what it means to be Black on campus.

This was an open-invitation event and about 30 people were in attendance. Of the people who attended, only one person was a part of FGCU’s faculty. However, 100% of attendees were people of color. The only staff member in attendance was Dr. Sherdene Simpson. Simpson, who was in attendance with her husband, was pleased to see important conversations between students take place.

The BSA President Andrea Toles, a junior, wants BSA to ‘mesh’ with the rest of the campus. She has shown interest in promoting her voice and wanting inclusion on campus to be prevalent.

“Although we’re the Black Student Alliance, it’s open to every student on campus,” Toles said.

Attending a predominately white institution as a Black student means that most interactions will be with non-black students. In recognizing that, the BSA wants most of their events to be open invitations.

Many events took place but there wasn’t much promotion from university. As of Feb. 12, there were two posts about Black History Month on FGCU’s Instagram page, and they were both posted on the first of the month. Since then, there have been 15 posts. Of those

posts, they included topics such as asking students to tag their “boardwalk buddy,” National Pizza Day and an intramural ultimate frisbee competition.

The BSA will go ahead with several events for the month even though there isn’t much promotion from the university. These events will be a part of their annual Melanin Week.

On Feb. 20, Melanin Week will continue with ‘intersectionali-tea.’ This will be a discussion on multiculturalism, Black people not being a monolith and the intersection of race and gender along with other topics. Following that will be ‘We the Culture.’ This will be an event where multiple student organizations will be present to play games, eat food and have meaningful conversations.

“It’s really interesting to see how people from different backgrounds try to work together and build together,” senior Khalia Fisher said.

Events, such as the ‘What the Health’ tabling event, will also provide students the opportunity to speak with the Prevention and Wellness Department, Counseling and Psychological Services and the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance. This tabling event will be about mental health in the Black community and giving out mental health resources to all students on campus.

“I’m excited for the decades party because that is something new and it will be fun overall,” senior Zoey Carter said.

Whether it be events on serious topics such as mental health or celebratory events such as the ‘Decades Party,’ it is important to show community and bring the university together. Organizations on campus such as the Multicultural and Leadership Development Center promote Black History all year to show that you don’t just have to share your identity one month in the year, but instead, it should be celebrated throughout.

Melanin Week is being held with no resistance from Student Government which is a different story from two years ago.

In Feb. of 2021, former Student Government Senator Nicholas Shepeard did not want to fund Melanin Week until the phrases “Black excellence” and “melanin” were removed from the bill. He saw those phrases as not inclusive enough. Students demonstrated to show their disapproval of his comments. The student body disagreed with his remarks then and still do now.

In the wake of the murder of Tyre Nichols and the attempt to defund diversity, equity and inclusion programs throughout the state, Black students are looking for an opportunity to be heard and celebrated. Melanin Week plans to do that and much more.

If you want to know more about Melanin Week and Black History Month festivities, follow the Black Student Alliance on Instagram @fgcubsa.