As one of many organizations geared toward students of color on campus, the Pan-African Student Alliance (P-ASA) naturally plays a pivotal role in representing the interests of the campus minority. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has made that responsibility difficult, the leadership is working hard to ensure that their presence is truly felt this semester compared to last.
P-ASA is among one of the few student organizations dedicated to supporting students of color, alongside the Male Empowerment Network (M.E.N.), Black Athlete Empowerment (B.A.E.), and the Lighthouse: Black Girls Project. Although each of these groups receives support from the College for their activities, and aims to enrich the experiences of people of color on campus as a whole, P-ASA also hopes to instill a united vision for the campus community. This is particularly important when it votes in a new and expanded executive board in April.
“I think one of the most important things to note is that our leadership has to have community in order for the rest of the campus to build community,” said Areial Thomas, current president of the P-ASA.
“Even though there are multiple organizations, whoever is in leadership next, must stress the importance of having that one vision. Of course, each of the organizations cater to different people, such as M.E.N, that’s for the young men, the males on campus. We have Black Athlete Empowerment, B.A.E., that’s for the athletes. We have the Lighthouse: Black Girls Project, that’s for black girls. But what is the vision, the total vision for our whole community?”
The new executive board will include many of the positions currently held on the board, such as president, vice president and secretary. There are also new positions put in place geared toward the goal of developing a more unified community and more active engagement with students of color. They include the Dance Chair, Music Chair, and Professional Development Chair.
“The Dance and Music chairs are really to build that sense of community further or deeper,” Thomas states.
“A lot of students complain about the lack of culture on campus, so when we look at history, when we look at just a lot of our community today, we see that culture is found in the food that we eat, the music that we listen to, the dances we create. So those positions are to intensify those aspects that aren’t really a priority on campus so that those students can find an outlet within the arts.”
The professional development chair, on the other hand, would be much more focused on helping students develop life skills post-graduation, Thomas says, by acting as a sort of bridge between students, the Career Center, and various businesses courses, like Money, Markets and Leadership.
Students should expect to see more information on these propositions by the end of February.
February also happens to be Black History Month, and P-ASA intends to put together a special program for both students and discuss the influence of prominent figures in African American history whose work continues to impact the lives of the community.
This will also be the time in which the outgoing executive board hopes to initiate leadership training for the 2021-2022 executive board, with those participating in the training being considered as potential candidates that will then be voted on around April.
“I’m very excited because we’ve never done anything like this before,” Thomas said.
“A lot of times people are just thrown into positions, but I’ve learned that good leaders build other leaders, or at least pave the way for them and teach them. I don’t feel like you’re a good leader if you keep all the knowledge to yourself, so this is what I’m pushing not only myself to do but just the entire executive board to do. To share their experience and what they’ve learned there, the amount of growth they have shared because of their experience.”
Thomas says she hopes the new leaders will understand the importance of character and responsibility, and that they should put their best effort into the position and not be selfish when doing so.