By Melina Orantes
Cal Poly Pomona’s Black Student Union held its first State of the Union Address last Thursday.
The Bronco Student Center’s England Evans Board Room was open to students and faculty to hear Michael Ezenwa, BSU president and fifth-year management and human resources student, address the current state of affairs within the black community on campus.
The BSU is a campus organization that strives to remain dedicated to the personal and academic advancement of African American students. Part of the organization’s mission is to develop leaders who will impact the campus community as well as strive for equal educational opportunities for minority groups.
The State of the Union address was a chance for Ezenwa to speak out about changes he would like to see on campus. He has seen growing concerns among the African American community regarding the role it plays on campus, Ezenwa said.
“We began to popularize a discussion of academic focus, self-development, drive, passion and a self-sustaining hunger for more,” said Ezenwa. “How do we begin to popularize a conversation of growth of ourselves individually and for us as people?” said Ezenwa.
Ezenwa used his voice to encourage African American students at CPP to start having these discussions in order to see a greater effort made on campus. As president, he is working to make sure that African American students are taking more opportunities and playing a bigger part in the campus community, despite their relatively small presence.
“The fact of the matter is that we are only three percent on this campus. That translates too less than 800 students ” 800 black students out of over 24,000 students on campus,” said Ezenwa, “After acknowledging that single fact, I would hope that, that would then bolster the issue of our attention.”
From the African American students’ perspective, Ezenwa believes that they have little to no power on campus. Part of the issue is their lack of involvement in organizations such as Associated Students, Inc. ASI is crucial in making major decisions for the student body, and Ezenwa does not see a voice for the African American students within that part of student government.
“There is a stark lack of our own representation within ASI and the councils, but this is not a problem that they created nor is it then their responsibility to place us there,” said Ezenwa “Without our presence there, there is no one there to present on our behalf. Our interests will never be expressed and, therefore, will never be met.”
Ezenwa is embodying the spirit of the leaders that have come before him to motivate the African American student body into doing more, not just for themselves but also for future African American students that will attend CPP.
“Our elders did not serve thinking that liberation would come within their own lifetimes. But [they] hoped, served, worked, prayed that their efforts would then bolster us ” into a position where we could achieve liberation in our lifetime,” said Ezenwa, “They did not serve for themselves, they served for us. Let us think of that same spirit. Why don’t we continue their struggle? How is it that we dare stay complacent with subpar GPAs.”
Some efforts that Ezenwa would like to see the African American students take on campus is to start running for more ASI legislative positions and reach out to non-African American students who are not involved. He wants to see more students trying harder, doing better in classes and taking trips down to the career center to map out their futures. These are all actions that take more than just a president to improve and some students have realized that, said Ezenwa.
“I saw where he wanted to go with it, but it does play community effort, having an audience does play a role in having a big turnout,” said Dawnyell Dixon, a second-year psychology student. “It’s just really putting in that effort for the community.”
“Like he said we are only 800 out of 24,000 students, which is a really big ratio. To every one African American student on campus, there’s 30 non-African American students, and I think that’s really important to talk about,” said Jordyn Masters, a second-year political science student.
Ezenwa knows there is a lot of potential within his community. For the African American community to grow and build a stronger foundation for themselves and future students, he said he would like to see a greater student effort.
“If students really begin to take their own destiny into their hands and really want to do better for themselves, that would better us all,” said Ezenwa.
Katrina Ultreras / The Poly Post
Black Student Union
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