Valparaiso University’s Black Student Organization (BSO) hosted its second annual We Matter Week from Oct. 4 to Oct. 9. The week consisted of multiple organizations that provided activities for students, faculty and staff.
Along with BSO, organizations included Lambda Chi Alpha, Alliance, Student Senate, Kappa Delta, Intervarsity, LatinX in Valparaiso for Excellence (LIVE), Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition (AAPIC), Alpha Phi Omega, VUDU Comedy, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, National Pan-Hellenic Council and Pi Beta Phi.
“We Matter Week is a time for us to come together as a campus community to highlight, celebrate and actively support our African American community members,” said President José Padilla in a video statement regarding the week on Oct. 4.
There were two types of events student organizations participated in: active and passive. Active events included involvement-based, informational activities discussing anything from privilege to voting rights. Whereas passive events centered around providing a platform for minority groups.
Five passive events were provided by other student organizations. Organizations that contributed to We Matter through passive events posted educational graphics and photos on their social media accounts.
These ranged from Black comedians and the arts to Black musicians and their impact and even National Pan-Hellenic Council sorority women spotlights. The content related to not only the student organization who provided the information, but also to recognizing Black influential individuals in a number of fields.
Within the active category, 11 events were conducted with a total of nine different student organizations managing the activities. Among these were a privilege walk by Lambda Chi Alpha, a library takeover by BSO, town hall meeting by BSO and Student Senate and a cultural dinner by LIVE.
During the first We Matter Week in 2020, Lambda Chi Alpha arranged a privilege walk, thus they decided to do it again for 2021.
“The privilege walk centered around a moderator that read off a set of questions. The first set of questions allowed people to take a step forward if they answered yes to that question and the latter set of questions had people take a step back if they answered no to that question,” said Meshach Melton, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha.
Questions focused on the idea of privilege in a variety of applications, such as comfort in a person’s workplace and assumptions based on someone’s race or identifications.
“It was a really great way to see how privilege affects everyone and how many different types of privilege there are. Typically, when people think about privilege, they think about racial privilege, but there’s also gender identity privilege, economic privilege and so on and so forth,” Melton said.
Additionally, LIVE hosted a cultural celebration dinner that combined recognition for both BSO’s We Matter Week and Hispanic Heritage Month. Anyone within the campus community was able to RSVP for the event.
“We had a dinner with food that came from different Latin based countries. There was food from Cuba, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Mexico,” said Isabella Pressler, historian and treasurer for LIVE. “It was just a really good time to celebrate through a dinner and dance performers.”
BSO and LIVE fixated on facilitating an event that celebrated the diverse backgrounds and cultures of organizations within the Office of Multicultural Programs.
“We were able to educate other people who may not have that same background or educated people furthermore about the LatinX community,” Pressler said. “It just really added to both our experience and theirs because we were able to cultivate that kind of environment for them.”
BSO administered three events of their own in the active category: library takeover, voting rights and neon blackout. Themed days were also part of the week including: show your heritage, twin day, jersey ‘rep your city’ day, business casual, flashback, lazy/pajama day and blackout.
Follow BSO on Instagram @bso_valpo for more photos and information.