WKU students plan diversity, leadership events for fall 2016

Marcel Mayo

Two new diversity events are in the works for next fall. 

The Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference and the Black Leadership and Academic Conference are African-American student ran organizations.

WKU has been sending students to the SBSLC conference for years. Around 600-700 students around the world attend each year. Universities from all over the nation participate in SBSLC. 

WKU students will have the chance to travel to Texas A&M University on Jan. 21-24, 2016 for SBSLC. 

The trip costs $275 which includes travel, housing and food.

Nashville senior Asia Larkin said SBSLC helps African-Americans in various ways.

“SBSLC helps African-American students grow academic leadership, professional leadership and just personal growth,” Larkin said.

Larkin is not new to the leadership conferences.

“When I went to SBSLC — I was very shy,” Larkin said. “You find things that are personal for you but also that are on a greater scale to help you as an adult.”

Larkin said any student can attend.

“Whenever I went I was a sophomore,” Larkin said. “I didn’t have those professional skills or skills many adults have. It’s not just suit and tie. It’s also to have fun and get to know each other.” 

Another group of student volunteers are planning a committee called the Black Leadership and Academic Conference or b.l.a.c.

This would be the first African-American Leadership conference organization on WKU’s campus.

To attend SBSLC and or join b.l.a.c. students must have a 2.25 GPA or higher, a completed application by a deadline and be a full-time student.

“b.l.a.c. was originally URSOC on campus. It didn’t really go off to a hit,” Larkin said. “We didn’t have a lot of preparation.”

Josclynn Brandon, coordinator for the department of Student Activities and organizations and staff advisor for b.l.a.c., said students wanted to make a similar version of SBSLC and created b.l.a.c. 

“A group of students and along with our Vice President of Student Affairs, Mr. Howard Bailey, they decided that they thought it would be great to bring that concept here to WKU,”Brandon said.

Brandon said she hopes to host the first conference at WKU next fall. 

Brandon said minority students can benefit from either conference. 

“It’s really a time to be around other minority students to learn and grow as a student, professional and personally,” Brandon said.

Brandon said these conferences can give minority black students the extra push they need. 

“It’s great to be in an environment with people that look like you — especially coming from a PWI [Predominantly White Institution],” Brandon said.

Bowling Green senior Krystal Onyekwuluje also shared her experiences. 

“When I went to this conference, I really gained a greater sense of self worth,” said  “I was able to focus on what my strengths are and maximize that.”

Onyekwuluje stressed the importance of bringing a new conference to WKU.

“I think it’s important to bring a black student ran organization to Western Kentucky because we never had something like this before,” Onyekwuluje said. “Our black students don’t have a place on campus to call home.”

Bailey said b.l.a.c. was definitely needed. 

“We think that we can have a program now similar to that,” Bailey said. “We couldn’t do so until we had the renovation of the student union [Downing Student Union] complete because there weren’t very many meeting rooms in Downing previously.”

 These groups will get the ball rolling in the spring semester to ensure SBSLC and b.l.a.c. will be ready for the fall 2016 semester, Brandon said. 

“Leadership and professional development is so important in college and out there in the real world,” Brandon said.