The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

Black Student Union Hosts Book Giveaway

AC Carson
Natia Weathers (Left), Alela Kinyua (Middle), Ashleigh Johnson (Right) helped make the book giveaway a success.

To kick off this year’s Black History Month the right way, the Black Student Union (BSU) of Millikin University hosted a Free book giveaway this past week, along with the help from Campus Life.

Not only did they give away two free books, but free pins, stickers, and shoe Jibbitz too. In addition, there was a Black History Trivia Raffle, which included jogging participant’s memories of different Black History Facts and learning several new ones. If in fact you get the questions right, are entered into the raffle and your name gets picked, you get the chance to win even more items. Scanning through their wonderful setup, one couldn’t help but notice the wide range of diverse genres presented. From poetry, to romance, life tips, mental health, Physical health, building financial wealth and much more!

With observation of this event came with the privilege of talking to a few of the people responsible for putting it on. That was President of the Black Student Union Alela Kinyua, a Senior here at Millikin University and a BFA Art Therapy Major. The other was Natia Weathers, Coordinator of Campus Life of Residential Communities in the Office of Campus Life and has been here at Millikin for a year and a half. Speaking to these two young ladies came with lots of information on this amazing event and why they felt the need to put it on.

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For starters, Kinyua states that since her freshman year, it has been tradition to give out free books to Black Students here on campus because of Black History Month, only that tradition was held just one Thursday out of that month. To ensure they have a good variety, that there are enough books to go around, as well as encouraging them to read, they’re hosting this Book giveaway and Trivia Raffle every Thursday out the Month of February. One might ask, what is the significance of Thursday? 

Kinyua recognized that Black History Month starts and ends on a Thursday this year. Stating, “I thought I’d just keep up with the trend and keep it going every Thursday,” she said.

Moving forward, I asked them what the significance would be of giving these books out besides it being Black History Month. 

Weathers believes in the students. “They should be confident in representing their culture,” she said.

She also believes that in order to do that, Black students must learn more about their culture and where they come from. By giving these books away also guarantees the Black Students, that while in college and getting their education, that they also get to learn who they are on this campus!

Kinyua encourages Black Students on campus to stop by and grab books and other items on the days they’re being presented.

Although this is a BSU event, she enjoys the diversity of the choices for students. “It’s nice to have a variety of books for all students outside the Black Community to be able to come and have a book to choose from,” Kinyua said. 

Natia understands the importance of creating understanding for all groups of people. 

“When it comes to Millikin wanting to create a sense of belonging for all students, it’s important that all students take interest in learning about different cultures,” she said. 

She understands that this event creates a safe space for students of different cultures to represent their cultures and in doing so, goes beyond the Black Community with engagement. With that, this Book giveaway event is a chance for other cultures, nationalities, and identities to learn more about Black culture, Black identity, and Black history.

Since the Black Community is the biggest minority group on Millikin Campus, Kinyua feels that it is very important that everyone acknowledges Black History. Not only that but because of the many contributions they grant to this campus. While Millikin University does make Black students feel welcome, she reasons that Black student representation makes other Black students feel welcome when coming to a Small PWI as well. 

“It lets everyone know we’re here, we deserve to be represented and acknowledged during Black history month outside of BSU and Natia hosting Trivia tables.” Kinyua said. 

Millikin hosting events themselves would show that they appreciate the Black representation here on campus. She also highlights that although there is the Long-Vanderburg Scholarship that was based on the first two African American Graduates here at Millikin, we should still acknowledge Black history and put it on display.

Weathers says that MU does have a strategic initiative of being inclusive. Furthermore, that inclusiveness goes beyond just having diversity on campus but celebrating said diversity. That includes celebrating all heritages’ months through the year. Along with creating possible programs to commemorate other demographics they have here on campus. Whether it’s encompassing Women’s history month, Native American Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month and so on and so forth. Agreeing back with what Kinyua said about Blacks being the biggest minority group here, Weathers feels that it is important also to acknowledge the Black faculty and professors along with the students and the difference they make here at Millikin.

I asked both Alela and Natia what steps they would take in the future to ensure that Black History stays relevant even after Black History Month is over. Alela wanted to first off emphasize keeping up with traditions that Black Student Union has been doing since it first started out as For Soul Only (FSO). The first African American Organization here at Millikin. That includes events such as Ebony Ball, Senior Brunch, and other traditions. In addition to creating a variety of new ones, for example, Natia’s Raffle and Black History Facts trivia table. 

“There’s information there that I didn’t know, and I’m being educated still,” she said. “It is good to not only educate the Black students more, but to educate anyone who stops by and is intrigued to learn something new.”

Since roller skating is one of the many activities that are very prominent in the Black Community, the Black Student Union will end their celebration of Black History Month, with a Roller-Skating Kick Back, in which Kinyua believes that Roller-skating is an event that allows a lot of people, especially the Black community, to express themselves, be free, do their own moves, listen to music and most importantly, have fun.

Weathers adds that in furthering taking steps, she would encourage the Black Student Union, the African-Student Organization and even the International Student Organization to come together to host events that engage people of color! She also believes in going beyond student organizations by advocating that Millikin University itself prioritizes events that represent all communities and nationalities here. Weathers also wants to emphasize that the students are wonderful and do a great job hosting events. However, it is also the Institution’s job to prioritize making different ways to represent and preserve various cultures including Black culture.

I myself acquired two books, and a pin during this event. Along with entering the raffle. I was very fascinated by the trivia facts that were told. Some I knew and some I didn’t and that is why I plan on attending again. Not only just to get books, pins, stickers, or shoe Jibbitz, but to have a good laugh, talk amongst friends, maybe make new ones. Alela and Natia would encourage you all who can to go support and enjoy the Book giveaway events this month, as well as Black Students coming out to enjoy other events to celebrate their culture. 

“Happy Black History Month and thanks to Campus life and all who have supported thus far,” Kinyua said.

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About the Contributor
AC Carson, News Editor
News Editor '24

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    VFeb 13, 2024 at 8:19 pm

    Fantastic, this is great. Millkin students can be better informed of what’s going on at their campus.