Members of Pitt State’s Black Student Association (BSA) will have the opportunity to attend the 43rd annual Big XII Conference on Black Student Government at the University of Oklahoma from Thursday, Feb. 20 through Sunday, Feb. 23.
The Big XII Conference is an opportunity for members of Black Student Governments from around the country to come together as well as attend workshops and listen to speakers.
“Originating from the Big Eight, together with their Black Student Government programs and wanted to create an event in which Black Student Governments could, number one feed off of each other, and number two gets outside ideas and also attend black leadership seminars,” said BSA President D’André Phillips, junior in mathematics.
Six students from the BSA will attend the conference; three women and three men.
“Members who attend is based off criteria and have a certain GPA within BSA and be an active member, which means they pay their membership dues and attend other programs including Hispanics of Today (HOT) and NASA (Native American Student Association) and attend at least two of their events throughout semester and help with BSA events,” Phillips said.
According to the University of Oklahoma website, the conference was founded in 1977 when, “Black students from all the schools in the Big Eight Conference came together in recognition that they were suffering from similar problems at their respective institutions.” Their mission is to, “…provide strong, determined and courageous leadership and advocacy to affect our social and academic environments toward consideration of this community’s collective concerns and issues where it pertains to the educational, socio-cultural, economic, and spiritual well-being of this community.”
This year’s theme is “Generation Us: Unifying Blackness Through Social Change.”
Senior in political science Courtlynn Rose will be attending the conference for the first time.
“I had heard about it from students in the past and have always wanted to go,” Rose said. “They all said they felt empowered and inspired after going. I am excited about one of the keynote speakers which is Angela Davis.”
Phillips attended the previous conference and said it was, “bigger than (he) ever imagined.”
“There were over 1,000 students there from all over the country,” Phillips said. “It was just an eye-opener for me because this school is primarily Caucasian but going there, I was around thousands of people that are African-American, specifically, and these people were doctors… and lawyers. These people were other African-American students who want to achieve higher education just like me.”
Phillips believes, especially as an African-American student, having the opportunity to attend conferences like this is very important.
“I think those are all great things to attend,” Phillips said. “…I wasn’t able to learn because I grew up in a predominantly white community, so I was able to experience Historically Black College University (HBCU). So, we were able to experience that culture which is the inverse of what Pittsburg State is. There’s nothing wrong with going to predominantly white or predominantly black colleges, it’s just getting those experiences is something I believe will help you become a better, well-rounded individual.”
The conference will be a great way to witness black excellence, according to Assistant Director of the Office of Student Diversity Emely Flores.
“They’ll get to see black excellence and have examples of what it looks like as far as someone who wants to step out of the normal routine and wants to strive for greatness and be inspired,” Flores said. “Then bring back whatever inspired them back to campus and the community here in the SEK area to help raise awareness.”