Doane students come together to support black students and voices through the Black Student Alliance group.
Senior Jacobi White works as the secretary for the BSA group, formerly known as the Black Student Union, after joining Spring of this year.
“BSA is an organization that welcomes and offers support for African American students,” White said. “As well as anybody interested in learning about African American culture and historical moments and growing a voice within the African American community at Doane and surrounding areas.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has not been able to meet since spring. At their previous meeting in the spring, the group played trivia games centered on African American accomplishments with prizes for the winning team. They also discussed scholarship opportunities.
Senior and president of BSA Brandon Madison said the group also talks about their experiences as minorities both on Doane’s campus and in general society.
“[...] Sometimes we vent and talk about our experiences on campus. Sometimes we really stress venting to each other and just talking about life as a black man or woman in America,” Madison said.
Despite being unable to meet since the spring, some BSA members participated in protests over the summer individually.
“We peacefully marched and participated in the protests. Due to Covid, this was done individually amongst members, but the only way to respond was to be a part of those protests and reach out to individuals who had questions and needed support for these unfortunate events,” White said.
White mentioned future events that the group wants to host.
“We are wanting to take trips to various schools as a Mentorship Program, host field trips to museums of African American Culture, host a field trip to the movies or live performances to view historical true event films, for example “The Color Purple” which represents the life of an African-American women in the Southern US in the 1930s,” White said. “[We want to] host get-togethers welcoming all Doane students interested in learning about or joining BSA, and host a community outreach program volunteering within different parts of local communities and families.”
Madison said he hopes to create a safe environment for black students at Doane.
“I want to create a safe, positive, caring, loving environment for all students that identify as black. We want to see our black students stay on campus and graduate from Doane University, we want them to know that they matter and that they are seen and heard,” Madison said.
White explained that the BSA group was not only for African American, or black, students.
“I just want BSA to be brought to the light and give it a voice that can help in the growth of this organization. This is not just a group for African Americans but a group where all are welcomed who are interested in learning and helping in the fight for change. ‘A voice can’t be heard if it is silent’,” White said. “We welcome all voices.”
White said the goal for him and the group is to make an impact not only on Doane's campus, but in the general community as well.
"Our goals as a group would be to build a presence not just amongst Doane, but the overall community," White said. "We want to offer support as best as we can and bring a voice to students who feel left out attending a small school in the Midwest."
Madison explained that the BSA hopes to
"[the Black Student Alliance is] an organization that wants to create a safe space for black students to be their authentic selves and help them find and create success in and out of the classroom," Madison said. "We are an organization that supports and celebrates the richness that we, black students, bring to this predominantly white institution."
Both White and Madison expressed a desire to leave behind a legacy involving the BSA.
“Personally, I want to leave a legacy with the Black Student Alliance and have it alive and thriving on campus for generations to come,” Madison said.
White said he hopes the BSA continues to make a positive impact on Doane and its students in the future after he leaves.
“I want African American students or any students interested in BSA to walk on Doane’s campus for the first time and the first thing they hear is about BSA and the level of importance this group has to individuals on campus and in the community,” White said.
Madison said the group has been promoting the “Black Lives Matter” movement by putting up signs around campus.
“We were also responsible for putting up some of the "Black Lives Matter" and other signs promoting activism on campus,” Madison said. “We did this because we feel there was a lack of outreach to the black students at Doane and we want to remind returning students and new students that we are here and we care about them.”
The group also participated in a protest rally organized by the group’s sponsor Marilyn Johnson-Farr last week.
Madison believes that the BSA group is essential to Doane’s (primarily white) campus.
“We deserve to have a safe space on this campus like many other groups. I believe we need the Black Student Alliance,” Madison said. “We want to create an overall atmosphere of peace and positivity that is free from racism, stereotypes, prejudices, etc.. We want it to be a place where any student that identifies as black can come in and feel welcome, and a place where our allies can join us as well.”
“We are here to bring about change on this campus and create a space for black students that lasts forever,” Madison said.