Black Student Association adds speakers and events to spur turnout

In a new initiative to boost dwindling attendance numbers, theÿBlack Student Association will add speakers and events to its meetings, a BSA official said.

Jessica Guillory, BSA program coordinator, said BSA hosted “The Evolution of Relationships” last Wednesday, a discussion panel that covered topics from wedding bands to one-night stands to bring attention to its meetings.

BSA President Tamara Sherrod said she realized the organization needed a change in how the general body meetings were run when she noticed membership would start strong and decline throughout the academic year.

“General body meetings originally were just business, and it was me standing at the front of the room for 30 minutes talking, and we wanted to change that because people’s eyes would glaze over,” Sherrod said.

On paper, BSA, which is open to all interested students, had 170 members, but only 30 to 35 are active members who attended the previous general body meetings, Sherrod said.

Sharnese Thompson, BSA treasurer, said she estimates that about 15 members pay dues.

Sherrod said BSA planned to continue to have open discussion meetings similar to the relationship panel.

Though meetings are usually every other Wednesday, BSA and the TCU chapter of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are hosting “Chocolate Poetry” on Feb. 11. The event is an open mic night, where the audience can volunteer to recite a poem or spoken word, Sherrod said.

She said the next event will be “Where Do you Weigh In,” a forum co-programmed with the African Heritage Association about what it means to be African or an African-American.

In addition to “Where Do You Weigh In,” BSA planned a how-to on financial aid forum toward the end of February, Sherrod said.

Members came up with “The Evolution of Relationships” panel discussion during an executive board meeting after members brought up the idea of a forum that encouraged members to participate and debate issues prevalent to them, Sherrod said.

Olivia Stribling, advertising coordinator, said the group was interested in the group’s response to the topic.

“We wanted to see how as a community we responded to relationships, how we felt about them and to provide textbook and professional information to complement that, so we thought this was a very relevant topic,” Stribling said.

To provide a professional viewpoint, Stribling invited her former professors, Paul Schrodt, director of graduate studies in the Department of Communication Studies, Diane Stamper, lecturer in the Department of Communications Studies and Darron Turner, associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs, to be guest speakers and give their opinion on relationships.

“I think before you have a healthy relationship, you first have to be a healthy individual,” Schrodt said.

The relationship forum filled nearly every seat in the chambers room located on the third floor in the Brown-Lupton University Union. Sherrod said it was too early to tell if the event would lead to more members.

Stribling held the forum and posed hypothetical situations ranging from what to do about rumors that your partner is cheating to when to tell your partner you have a sexually transmitted disease.

“I say if you cheated, and you don’t feel that guilty about it, and you know you’ll never do it again, then don’t tell,” said Jordan Pitts, a junior psychology major, prompting laughter from the audience. “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.”

Stamper said dating used to be more “formal” and “traditional” but thinks the current attitude toward dating is “a double-edged sword.” Students and panel members also discussed domestic violence.

Chasity Shorts, a sophomore sociology major, said she thought everyone had something to gain from the meeting.

“I think it was a big eye-opener for a lot of things,” she said.