Concordia’s Black Student Union (BSU) hosted the first in a series of discussions on Monday, June 8.


The inaugural discussion, entitled “The Effects of Racial Inequality on College Students,” was moderated by Eugene Pitchford, professor and advisor of the Black Student Union and Dr. Steve Gerner, dean of students.

De’Shawn “DJ” Ford, Psychology ’23 helped host the inaugural discussion.

In attendance, using zoom technology, was a wide spectrum of Concordians who showed up to listen, to share, and to learn from each other. There were students representing many different backgrounds and experiences, professors of many disciplines and backgrounds, administrators, current parents, families, and representatives from other Concordia Universities.

After a brief welcome from Pitchford, Gerner laid out the collective agreement to set the tone for an open and honest exchange. After that, BSU representative De’Shawn “DJ” Ford, Psychology ’23, thanked everyone for participating and acknowledged the urgency of the conversation.

Thus, began a vibrant, and at times, emotional discussion where everyone was heard and their personal experiences and perspectives were validated. While the organizers kept their promise to keep the event to an hour, nearly the entire room stuck around much longer to keep sharing, listening, and supporting.

At one point, Ford offered the following inspiring validation to another student, “When you acknowledge the flaws, it means you can do something to change it. Do not fear the inevitable discomfort and rage that rises within you. Embrace it, and be more… be the change!”

Mark your calendars for the next discussions:

JULY 8 – “Triumphs in the Battle for Equality”

AUGUST 5 – “The Role of Higher Education in the Quest for Social Justice”

For those interested in becoming more educated prior to the upcoming discussions, Gerner and Pitchford recommend the following books:

How to Be An Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race – Beverly Daniel Tatum

When you acknowledge the flaws, it means you can do something to change it.

Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

SUPERHERO EDUCATION: How to Teach with Superior Skills & Success – Steve Gerner & Eugene Pitchford III

Concordia’s BSU is open to all students. The goals of the organization are to assist every student in the following ways:

  • Build a sense of belonging.
  • Provide a safety net to ensure a culturally responsive atmosphere.
  • Strengthen academic and behavioral success.

Sessions are free and open to public. The Zoom link is available by emailing Pitchford.

— Lisa Liljegren is assistant vice president of strategic communications within the Office of Strategy and University Affairs.

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