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Thursday January 20th

BSM discusses what should change to improve UNC experience for black students

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Members of Black Student Movement met in the Upendo lounge Wednesday night to discuss things they would like to see from the University administration to improve the lives of black students.

"This was a great time for students to come and express what they want to see in terms of things that they feel that can better their Carolina experience as black students, as marginalized students and as people of color," BSM president Jeremy Mckellar said. 

Discussion topics included a host of social issues that have been problems for black students at UNC.

"I can honestly say that I know for a fact that a lot of African-American, African minority students in general on this campus are very, very frustrated with the social dynamics," BSM member Kristen Marion said.

One of the main concerns voiced by members at the meeting was the need to educate people on the racial history of UNC.

"We feel that we need to have a gen-ed course that gives the black and white truth of our University, because sometimes we want to sweep it under the rug. I think we need to be able to face it head-forward, and hopefully that course will be able to do that," Mckellar said.

One of the topics was the Oct. 25 protest by Confederate sympathizers against the vandalism of Silent Sam. 

"The fact that we can have Confederates. Confederate people come on this campus and make us feel so unsafe, but this is supposed to be our home, is absolutely ridiculous and ludicrous," Marion said.

Another discussion focused on how spaces like the Upendo lounge in the Student and Academic Services Building and the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History could be improved to create a sense of community. 

"The Upendo lounge used to be the main hub for our students that we could come to whenever we wanted, to socialize and to have meetings without permission from Union staff. And since it's been taken away, we really don't have a space that we can come to and just engage in dialogue and just be around each other," Mckellar said.

Richard Hall, an exercise and sports science major, said he decided to come to the BSM meeting today after seeing the UNC Stands with Mizzou rally on Friday.

"The most important thing that they talked about today was just everybody like staying on the same page and that we all have the common goal to remind everybody why we're here instead of everybody going off on their own ideas. And also making sure that everybody comes back under one common goal: and that's trying to better the social climate here at UNC," he said.

Marion said the overall goal of BSM and other black student groups at UNC is the same.

"I want people to know that systemic racism at UNC is an issue, and I can say for the most part the African-American students here definitely have every intention of doing something about it," she said. "We're not going to stop."

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