International Students Column
Bowie's Melting Pot is Not so Hot
By May-lissa S. Berger
African Student Association is the only international student organization on campus. At least, that is what the majority of the school's population believes. I've decide to take a short survey from my peers on their thoughts as far as diversity at Bowie. Although majority believes that the school is quite diverse, they can't seem to think of any other associations that cater to the international students. Maybe there are other associations but are not active? Maybe students don't really care? After all it is an HBCU, and a vast majority of the student body is African American. So what would be the purpose of starting clubs that cater to other black students? The Caribbean --- Haiti, Jamaica, Virgin Islands, Barbados, St. Lucia, etc. --- are all populated by black folks. Forming a group for African descendants from another country seems pointless, then why start an organization?
Why did a group of African students attending an HBCU take it upon themselves to start an organization form themselves? I sat with the President of the organization, Oladipo Adedeji and their student PR Uchena Nwokeafor.
"ASA started off with Bowie Alumnus, Olufola Jimy Gbadomosi. The association was developed to bring African unity on campus," Adedeji explains, "to bring us together and bring African awareness to Bowie." African Student Association has been running for five years now and is the biggest well known international student association on campus. I took it upon myself to walk around campus and challenge folks to name three international student associations or organizations. Would you like to guess the first and only association they could think of?
Ding ding ding, that's right! African Students Association! "We're pretty succeful," Nwokeafor says, "and we've reached out to other associations as well." He named SGA, Omega Psi phi and other off campus groups. He then mentioned the Carribean Students Association.
"We have a Caribbean Student Association?" I asked. It was news to me. If there was a Caribbean Student Association, I, May-lissa, who is Haitian, would have been a member of such organization for the past three years I have been attending Bowie. I did a bit of research on this association.
In the office of Student Life, there is no record stating that this organization is active and at the Commuter Student office, there was no paperwork on them, just ASA.
Although we are all black on this campus (OK, well, 85 percent to 90 percent), that doesn't mean that there are no cultural clashes. ASA has the right idea; they are black, yes, but they are African. Even within that there are more branches: some are Nigerian, Senegalese, and then some. With that they manage to get together and build something simply from the foundation of this one think they have in common.
I know a lot of fellow Haitians on campus. There are also Jamaicans, Trinidadians, and so on. Bowie is very diverse. It's just that no one cares enough to get together, acknowledge it and expand it.