Black ink : Black Student Movement, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. online resource ([Chapel Hill, N.C.]) 1969-current, October 28, 1991, Image 6
CVt»»h«.'r28, 1W| Ctn or Storv 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 source said. Zenobia Hatcher-Wilson,direc 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 said. 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,” Wilkens said. 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 noted. 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: •mim 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 and write. 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 households. Patterson said a deficiency of black students in the committee has a negative effect on children in the project. “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 involvement 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 tant” 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 zation.” 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 dents. “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,” he said. 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.