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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Symposium addresses ‘The State of the Black Aggie’

Timothy Lai — THE BATTALION
The “State of the Black Aggie” symposium was intended to address concerns of black students.
Timothy Lai — THE BATTALION The “State of the Black Aggie” symposium was intended to address concerns of black students.

A symposium titled “The State of the Black Aggie” hosted current students, former students and faculty members in a series of panels Saturday, discussing the current issues and concerns of black students.
The symposium, which was a collaborative effort by the Black Student Alliance Council and the MSC Carter G. Woodson Black Awareness Committee, was moderated by Stephan Lillie, Class of 2009 and former BSAC president, and featured panels on community involvement, academics and accountability.
Chelsea Jones, president of BSAC and kinesiology senior, said the goal of the symposium was to spur significant change in the black Aggie community.
“We understand that there are institutional issues that are impacting us that need to be addressed, and we have committed to doing that,” Jones said. “It is an opportunity for us to address the issues within our control, an opportunity to outline and then act on specific steps so that we can be the change.”
Joshua Lewis, director of external affairs for BSAC and philosophy sophomore, said a survey was distributed in the fall to gauge the opinions and experiences of students that identified as black, and the results of the survey were provided to the panelists before the symposium.
“The panelists can look at it, review it, before they come in for the symposium,” Lewis said. “At the symposium, the panelists address the issues and concerns of African American students here on campus.”
Eric Washington, social programs director for WBAC and political science junior, said the symposium was part of a foundation for the black community to become more cohesive.
The first panel discussed ways in which African American Aggies could become more committed to their organizations and community.
Christopher Young, graduate student in the George Bush School of Governance and Public Service and panelist on the community involvement panel, said it was important to stay connected to alumni, to have a strong support network and to socialize outside of school.
“If you can do those three things, like I say, your social network does become your professional network, you can have a community that continues even after graduation,” Young said.
Such topics as the value of academic priorities, academic responsibility and academic accountability were discussed in the second panel on academics.
E. Lisako J. McKyer, panelist on academics and associate professor of health and kinesiology, said the faculty is the best resource for students trying to improve their connections — and not only black faculty members.
“The bottomline is, the faculty are the ones who’ve been here and will be here and can help connect you to resources and people and jobs and other networks that you would never think about just by virtue of our connections,” McKyer said. “And it doesn’t have to be faculty of this color, because there’s not enough of us, I’m sorry, there’s not enough of us to go around.”
The final panel on accountability focused on the impact of individuals’ and organizations’ choices on the black community as a whole and who is accountable for the success of the community.
Shaquille Murray, sociology junior and panelist on accountability, said an individualistic mindset can create problems whenever the image of a community can be tarnished by one individual.
“If you have that kind of individualistic mindset, then it kind of goes without saying that we have these problems where we can’t connect with each other because you’re always thinking about yourself,” Murray said. “Obviously, the individual mindset, it kind of hampers what we want to do here.”
Lillie closed the event by stressing the importance of individual responsibility for creating more cohesive community.
“It really is true that change really starts with ‘me,’ it starts in my seat, it starts with me putting my hands on whatever it is that I can do,” Lillie said. “Whatever we’re looking for in making this community more cohesive, whatever it is that we’re seeking, make sure that you’re doing it. You be the change you want to see.”

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