It’s no secret: racial tension exists at Ohio University. The racial divide within the Athens community has resulted in several discriminatory acts, especially toward black students.
In the past, students have witnessed discriminatory paintings and messages on the Graffiti Wall. What is more telling, however, is the absence of administrators and organizations that aid black students and the issues they face in the aftermath of these incidents.
Black Affairs Commission, which is one of the 11 commissions in the Ohio University Student Senate, recognized this lack of representation and has begun establishing a bigger presence on campus.
Though the group has been active within the senate, the commission’s members have made the effort to inform students about its services through social media. The group recently developed a Twitter account, where they’ve published their office hours for students interested in discussing topics revolving around the black experience on campus.
Tyler Ashley, who serves as the senator for the organization, has helped spearhead Black Affairs’ effort to gain campus awareness.
Ashley believes Black Affairs’ presence on social media will inform more students about the resources its members provide, which includes student consolidation and issue prevention. Even more so, Ashley feels students will learn how these resources can be used to help implement campus regulations.
“[Social media] grants direct access to the students who might now want to reach out on their own, while allowing them to stay as anonymous as they want,” Ashley says. “Our primary goal is always going to be focused on raising awareness. We also want [students] to come to our office hours and commission meetings and discuss what’s good or bad about being black at OU.”
Imani Evans, the commissioner of the organization, says the Black Affairs Commission has received more recognition because of its social media presence.
Since the commission’s Twitter account activated on Sept. 10., Black Affairs has received over 150 followers. More importantly, Evans says, the organization has drawn in numerous students because of the commission’s effort to support the black community.
“We have been fortunate enough to have a positive response to our Twitter page,” Evans says. “I think that [us] trying to establish a presence on campus shows that we are a putting in the effort to hear what people have to say.”
Though Black Affairs has become a stronger commission because of its social media efforts, Evans suggests the organization has yet to hit its mark. She expects the commission to expand more and, eventually, become one of the top resources for students on campus. Not only establishing more members within the commission, but collaborating with other organizations to develop programs to increase student involvement as well.
“Our main goal is to establish a connection between the people we represent and our commission,” Evans says. “We are one of the ways people can have a voice. We are also hoping to work closely with Black organizations on campus to help them in any way we can.”