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Campus Y: The Activist Organization
By Felts Lewis
Ink Staff Writer
A black student at UNC walks
into the Campus Y after class lo talk
to someone about getting involved
in the organization.
As he opens the door to the of
fice area, several white students,
laughing joyfully together, suddenly
look at him in a strange manner.
Then, they quickly look away
when he attempts to ask them a
question about one of the commit
tees in the Y.
This scenario of a black student
experiencing a “chilly climate” is
one of several reasons why few
blacks at the Uni versity are involved
in the Campus Y, even those com
mittees which render support serv
ices to other blacks, an anonymous
tor of the Campus Y, said the above
scenario was common in the past,
which might be the reason students
are reluctant to take part in the
organization’s activities this year.
“Leaders (in the Campus Y) used
to hang out in the office and not
speak to anyone,” Hatcher-Wilson
She said committee co-chairper
sons failing to actively seek black
students for membership and black
students misconceiving the ideals
of the Campus Y both contribute to
the lack of black involvement
Scott Wilkens, co-treasurer of
the Campus Y and a white member,
said black students may not feel at
case while working there.
“I think it’s the feeling of being
uncomfortable, being out of place,”
Even the location of the Campus
Y, the tall, white edifice beside
South Building on North Campus,
was a factor, Wilkens said. He said
since the majority of black students
live on South Campus, the building
is not readily accessible.
Hatcher-Wilson, in her seventh
year as director, said many students
generally feel the Campus Y is a
place where white Morehead Schol
ars congregate. Because of this,
students of all races, particularly
blacks, feel excluded from the or
ganization, she said.
The organization has been
dubbed the “Campus White” by
blacksbecause they think only white
students are involved in its activi
ties, Hatcher-Wilson said. Ironi
cally, the building is white, she
Although several Campus Y
programs and committees are de
signed to aid blacks in the univer
sity or in the community, few of
them contain a significant number
of black members.
Listed below are a few of the
committees that offer support and
services to numerous African-
American individuals at the Uni
versity and in the community:
Michael SowdeaJBhek Ink
The Campus Y may seem like an exclusive club to some.
-The Big Buddy program pairs
a UNC student with a local youth,
with the student acting as a mentor;.
- In the Dillon School program
students visit the C.A. Dillon
School, a detention center for youth
offenders, and give the adolescents
there moral support and guidance.
- Project Literacy gives par
ticipants a chance to teach illiterate
UNC staff members how to read
Co-chairs from various commit
tees interviewed by the Black Ink
said black student participation in
certain projects has steadily in
creased over the past five years, but
the numbers are still glaringly low.
John Patterson, co-chair of the
Ridgefield Action Project, a com
mittee which gives UNC students
the opportunity to interact with local
youths, said only seven black stu
dents participated out of a 50-
member group. But the majority of
the youths served in the program
are black males from disadvantaged
Patterson said a deficiency of
black students in the committee has
a negative effect on children in the
“Black participation is very, very
low,” Patterson said. “It hurts the
kids because all they see are white
students going to college.”
John Buxton, co-chair of the
South African Scholarship Fund,
which raises money to establish an
endowment fund to provide four
scholarships for South African stu
dents, said his committee only has
two members, including himself.
“I think people are a little in
timidated by the issue,” he said,
explaining the lack of involvement.
He added that black students may
not be receptive to the committee
because he is white.
But while some committees are
experiencing recruitment woes,
others have increased their black
Romonda Baxter, co-chair of
Youth United, a committee aimed
to help teenagers in the area in
crease their self-confidence, said
the committee is 65 percent black, a
considerable increase from last year.
However, only one black male out
of 31 members is a part of the group.
Nineteen black females are actively
involved with the committee.
“One of our focuses was to have
a black male role model,” Baxter
said. “We thought this was impor
The mission statement of the Y
is “the pursuit of social justice
through the cultivation of plural
ism.” But many black students feel
the organization fails to cater to
their social and educational needs.
Amie Epps, president of the
university’s Black Student Move
ment, said: “(The Campus Y) has
been stereotyped as a white organi
Kimberly Blake, a sophomore
biology major from Fort Washing
ton, Md., said black students have
to make a concerted effort to get
involved, as opposed to white stu
“The Y is a part of their (white
students’) everyday lives. ...it’s their
domain,” said Blake, who is black.
Hatcher-Wilson said co-chairs
of its 29 committees are attending
BSM meetings and networking with
other campus groups in an effort to
increase the number of blacks stu
dents in the Campus Y.
Epps said he feels recruitment
efforts are effective.
“I see that (the Campus Y) is
changing to be a more diverse body,”
But Hatcher-Wilson said the Y
doesn’t want black students for nu
merical reasons. She said the or
ganization allows students, black or
white, to volunteer their time to
help those who are in need of assis
tance in the community.