Organizations, resources to welcome incoming Black students

Students+pose+with+their+artwork+after+the+Paint+and+Sip+for+the+Culture+event+hosted+during+the+2019-2020+school+year.

Photo Courtesy of Jared Ebanks

Students pose with their artwork after the Paint and Sip for the Culture event hosted during the 2019-2020 school year.

By Jared Ebanks, Assistant Features Editor

We all have spaces surrounded by peers that make us feel safe. We feel heard in these spaces and can share experiences with others who will relate to our stories the most. In a society where racial tensions are high, where the color of your skin determines how you’re perceived and treated, these spaces are necessary now more than ever. 

The University is home to a number of Black student organizations and resources readily available to serve the African American student population on campus. Sometimes, though, finding these spaces, communities and organizations can be difficult when arriving on campus.

During your first semester, you can take a trip to the Bruce D. Nesbit African American Cultural Center, BNAACC. Here, first-time students can receive information on events hosted at the center year-round as well as what student groups they partner with for these events. Signing up for BNAACC and the Office of Minority Services emails on your Illinois account is another way to stay up to date. 

Organizations such as the Central Black Student Union focus on supporting Black students who live in dorm rooms. The Union hosts its events across campus at common spaces in dorms and other spaces such as the Illini Union. Each week the evening’s events are given themes such as Soul Bowl in the Illini Union Rec Room or Soul Train Karaoke night. Black Student Unions are a great way to get your foot in the door to all the opportunities for Black students on campus. 

Other organizations on campus separated by gender give Black men and women the opportunity to increase their personal service and educational value. Men of Impact and Women of Color meet the needs and concerns of Black men and women, using service and education to overcome social stigmas society holds against them. Executive boards within these organizations can also help when bolstering your resume or looking for examples of leadership positions held while in college. 

Some of the most useful spaces on campus are created for a deeper educational dive into a student’s major. National Association of Black Journalists, NABJ, and National Association of Black Accountants are nationally recognized clubs that hold meetings throughout the year for Black students in journalism and accounting fields. 

Here, students can collaborate on their studies as well as learn how African Americans fare in their specific job field. Often completing zoom calls with professors and social activism leaders from across the country, these organizations prepare the next generation of black accountants and journalists.

Educational student groups can also be a fantastic place to network with students you’ll be seeing in the same classes as you for the next four years. NABJ specifically hosts its own website where members actively write stories pertaining to the black experience on campus. The added work is both manageable and beneficial as a first-semester freshman having your work officially published. 

Having personally joined NABJ as a freshman, being a part of the organization improved my skills as a writer, but it also gave me a place where I know my voice is heard. It is a space where I can collaborate with other journalists who look like me and try new opportunities I wouldn’t have known were available to me had I not joined. 

The organization mentioned above can be found on the website of the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations.

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