BOSU Fights Back
by Lovette Azap
On the evening of Tuesday, February 4, 2020 the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) conducted a General Body Meeting at the Frank W. Hale, Jr. Black Cultural Center. While conducting this meeting, the organization made announcements to highlight significant holidays and events with complete disregard for the recognition of Black History Month. When students spoke out about the issue, they were told that this recognition was not a part of the USG's “systems and processes.”
The Frank W. Hale, Jr. Black Cultural Center, also referred to as the Hale Center, is an extremely important emblem for all minority students at The Ohio State University, especially for Black students. The Hale Center is a safe space that has a remarkable history on this campus (for more information on the history of Hale Hall, check out The Hidden History of Ohio State's Black Student Body published last month).
In a letter written by the Undergraduate Student Government's Leadership Team, they said:
“This incident is just the tip of the iceberg and exemplifies deeper issues within the organization culture of the Undergraduate Student Government at Ohio State that systemically & continually denies, deflects, and silences the voices of black students. These deeper issues within the organization structures are supported statistically with the lack of representation of African American students in the organization and organization leadership”
Black students at Ohio State University, along with allies, packed the Senate Chamber room along with four overflow rooms in the Ohio Union to support the cause. During this public comment forum, students advocated for an emergency resolution to annually acknowledge Black History month as well as to increase Black representation within USG.
Akilah Smith, the president of the Black Student Association (BSA), shared remarks to explain the importance of speaking out against USG:
“The Undergraduate Student Government has clearly displayed that they only want Black students to be seen in certain spaces, as celebrating Black history is not a part of their ‘systems and processes,' and has been relegated to the Multicultural Center. However, we refuse to only be seen in the spaces you've deemed we deserved. We will be heard and represented loud and proud.”
Over fifty students joined her to speak out about the incidents and necessary following steps. After almost six hours, the resolution was passed.
In the end, history was made and hundreds of Black students at the Ohio State University joined together to combat the silencing of their voices by the Undergraduate Student Government. The resolution passing is not what made this event historic – it was the community that was brought together to elicit change in a space that lacked the necessary representation to carry out that change. Organizations spoke out, individuals spoke up, and the Black students of Ohio State rectified their concerns. Although this was the first step, there are many steps that will follow this in order to ensure that each point in the resolutions, and much more, come to fruition.
Speaker: Kaelyn Sanders
Speaker: Brittani Collins
Speaker: Roaya Higazi
Pictured (L-R): Ose Arheghan, Destiny Brown, Amanya Paige
Lovette Azap is a third-year Biochemistry major from Brunswick, Ohio. She aspires to become a cardiothoracic surgeon for Doctors Without Borders to decrease health disparities present within the health care field.