To celebrate Black History Month, the University of Indianapolis’ Black Student Association (BSA) will be hosting a Black Excellence Dinner on Feb. 24 at the Enders Engagement Center, according to BSA President and junior theatre and psychology major Kelli Thomas. She said they have hosted the dinner in years prior, but due to COVID-19, they missed a few years. But now with more people back on campus, Thomas said she hopes they can represent African American culture more.
“We wanted to do something now that we have more people active on campus, and we just wanted to do something that represented the black population here as it has grown,” Thomas said.
Senior psychology major and Vice President of Project Regalia Shapira Lewis said BSA reached out to the group because both organizations consistently collaborate with each other. She said the whole experience working together was a positive one because everyone is learning from each other and growing together.
“We wanted to create something that we all could just come together, […] a safe space for students of color who can go to our campus, they kind of have that support and resources,” Lewis said.
Senior Admissions Counselor for Diversity Recruitment CariAnn Freed was involved in the dinner’s planning. Freed said because she works in the Office of Inclusion and Equity, she works frequently with BSA and wanted all groups to come together to create a huge event.
“We were doing work with the Black [Student] Union, so all of the black organizations [are] coming together and pouring some of their ideas and their concepts together to pull off Black History Month. That’s where it came up is we need some help and some support in getting the Black Excellence Dinner to be the best that it can be,” Freed said.
The event will include a networking component where students will have the opportunity to meet with professionals in the job industry, Freed said. Following the networking portion, the dinner will feature conversation following the theme of Real Talk, Love, Life and Money. Lewis said people should attend the event because it will be fun and interactive.
“Sometimes when there’s events, you just go and you’re so used to sitting down and nothing’s happening,” Lewis said. “No, we like to bring the fun and interesting things in and get everybody involved and interacting with each other; music, food, it’s going to be good.”
Thomas said she hopes the event raises awareness to various resources that are available to African American students. She said the goal is to bring people together.
“I think it’s very important because not a lot of students of color on campus are aware of the resources they have and the faculty that they could go to, because you don’t see them necessarily every day and we don’t have a large population of black students or black faculty,” Thomas said. “It’s hard to identify someone that is similar to you, someone that you can relate to. It’s really about relating, and someone who can kind of understand your struggle and your experience and help you and teach you some things that can help you on your journey as a student.”
Freed said having this event is important because it is an opportunity to not only highlight being African American, but rather be recognized for their contributions to the country.
“What’s most important is that we’re overcoming barriers no matter what, despite them being there and despite the world we live in not being set up for us, we’re still overcoming and we’re still producing incredible things and contributing in incredible ways,” Freed said.