WKU hosting black history months throughout February

Anna Lawson

Every February, WKU hosts a myriad of events to celebrate Black History Month. These events include speakers and videos, as well as student-led panels.

The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI) will be presenting the events. Andrea Garr-Barnes, the office’s director, said that it is important for students to take part. 

“Why would a student not want to come to an event that will provide them with an opportunity where they can look at the things students are facing on campus?” she said. “We are going to have to know how to work side by side in a team to face these social issues.”

One event she’s specifically excited for is titled “A Conversation about Race, Privilege and Degree Completion for Racially Diverse Students”, which will be held on Feb. 25. 

This event aligns with OIDI’s mission statement to aid in the successes of under-represented groups.

“The mission… is to provide resources to the campus community and the external community that promote inclusive excellence, access and social justice for all,” the OIDI website said. 

The event will feature two panels: one consisting of students who will speak about their experiences on campus, and another that will be lead by students, faculty and staff. 

Garr-Barnes said it is vital that students lead parts of the discussion. 

“Students are connecting the dots to a new revolution, students across the country are stepping up,” she said. “They want to be able to give something back, and leave a footprint.”’

On Feb. 16, “Step Up”, a WKU documentary, will premiere, with a discussion with director Noube Rateu, producer William Medero and former street outreach member Conan Harris following. 

“The writer, director and producer are all under thirty years old,” Garr-Barnes said. “They all graduated from a public institution, and are all men of color. They took this topic across the country and have conversations with people about the effect that a lack of a father can have on individuals.” 

Garr-Barnes said the film is meant to open up dialogue between students, faculty and staff in the sphere of positive communication. 

“This will create a conversation with students about how we can use our gifts and talents and shine a bright light on social justice,” she said. “Everyday people can come up with solutions. These young guys chasing their dreams give students the opportunity to have a real conversation with them and see what they hope to be five years.”

Garr-Barnes believes it is important for people to work together to make change. 

“If we as a campus and human beings don’t constantly engage in dialogue we don’t understand one another,” she said. “When we are placed in a situation where we engage in dialogue it breaks down differences and then we can work together to come up with a resolution.”

The OIDI starts planning for these events during the summer. Garr-Barnes listens to the students’ requests and tries to incorporate what they want.

“Through research we come up with a topic that we feel is interesting,” she said. “Then we see if students agree.” 

 Garr-Barnes said students thought that the events were timely and wanted to have discussions with one another.

“We really want students to be involved with the university,” she said.