Black Student Union encourages unity

Students and staff show a gesture of unity during the closing ceremony. From left are Interim Chancellor Greg Cook, Black Student Union President Rahenya Anderson, a sociology major from Milwaukee, and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Kenny Yarbrough. The UW-Whitewater 2020 Unity Walk for Black Lives Matter honored the theme of unity while observing safety measures like face coverings and social distancing on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Groups limited to 10 people set out on walks throughout the afternoon and early evening around the perimeter of campus. (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

UW-WHITEWATER PHOTO/CRAIG SCHREINER

Students and staff show a gesture of unity during the closing ceremony. From left are Interim Chancellor Greg Cook, Black Student Union President Rahenya Anderson, a sociology major from Milwaukee, and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Kenny Yarbrough. The UW-Whitewater 2020 Unity Walk for Black Lives Matter honored the theme of unity while observing safety measures like face coverings and social distancing on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Groups limited to 10 people set out on walks throughout the afternoon and early evening around the perimeter of campus. (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

Greetings,

My name is Rahenya Anderson. I am the president of Black Student Union and I’m a senior majoring in Sociology with a minor in Biology

Black Student Union is one of the largest identity-based organizations on campus. Our purpose is to motivate and retain students on campus, coordinate activities to strengthen cultural awareness, and provide assistance to develop our professional skills. Becoming an organized body of students that is able to deal with social, cultural and educational problems.

This will be my fourth year at the University; the amount of injustices that I’ve experienced or have known of someone that has had similar experience, all have recurring themes over the years. From the outside looking in, the university doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to minorities on their campus. For some, the university is perceived as being racist and never implementing the necessary change. With efforts from our students and faculty, BSU is able to provide a safe space for minorities when faced with injustice on campus.

Recently, Black Student Union along with WSG partnered in sponsoring a Unity walk hosted on UWW campus. The walk was designed to show a unified community when it comes to creating change for blacks at UWW and in our communities. The event turned out incredible, however we received a lot of hateful messages regarding the importance of the event. The messaging was influential and gave everyone something to consider. The most shocking comments came from Whitewater alumni. It is possible these were once my peers or classmates. However, the negative comments will not tarnish the messaging and reason behind the event.

There was a reflection portion after the Unity walk. There we presented a list of demands to the University. The list of demands contained focus matters that directly affect blacks at UWW. A demand that should have been on that list is, the negative interaction blacks’ encounter with UWW police. It has been a reoccurring issue for years in this town and often goes unnoticed. For an example, the university released a statement with a description that should have focused on the identity of the car rather than the black males with the shorthair, since a large percentage of black males in town and on campus fit it.

The people at the university need to be more consciously aware of what they’re potentially starting. People at Whitewater, although nice, quiet, and quaint have an image of the black community that still needs to be worked on. I believe the university is moving in the right direction as it pertains to the social climate we’re facing. Continuing to address those uncomfortable topics of conversations will be the foundation of providing change.

Kind Regards,

Rahenya Anderson

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Sociology Major| Biology Minor

President of Black Student Union

Ronald E. McNair Scholar

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