By Lacey Jacoby /// Features Editor
Which ingredient should you take to the Black Student Union cookout this weekend? “Bring an open mind,” Raymond Fenton (’16), co-president of the BSU, said. Of course, signing up to cook dinner wouldn’t hurt either.
The cookout, which will take place on Saturday, Dec. 6, will begin between 5:30 and 6 p.m. in the Rusty Nail Student Co-op. Cooking will start at 3 p.m., likely in Holmes Hall.
For Fenton, the cookout will provide a space for both defining and understanding the role of the BSU.
“We’re really presenting the BSU to the community,” Fenton said. “Hopefully after the end of the cookout we’ll have a stronger sense of who we are and what we will be standing for.”
The cookout is particularly timely given recent events at Lewis & Clark. “A lot of things have been happening on campus. A lot of people are looking to the BSU. We also want to figure out what is it that people are exactly looking for from us,” Fenton said. Participants are asked to bring ideas, including their reasons for coming.
The structure of the cook-out will be flexible, with Fenton and his Co-President, Darius Grays (’16), facilitating conversation. Students should come “with the intention of talking about discrimination and diversity and racism,” Fenton said. An open mic will provide room for music, dance, skits or any other kind of performance (advanced sign-up required).
Part of a larger effort to increase community involvement in the BSU, the cook-out is just one of a number of ways for students to learn about the group’s role on campus. “Our plan is to move away from having one party at the end of the year and actually engage the community in a very intimate way,” Fenton said. To achieve this, the BSU has also begun to hosting meetings every Friday at 4 p.m. in Tamarack, and will continue to increase outreach during the year.
For the BSU, increasing involvement means reaching out to a wider audience as well. Fenton encourages students of all races and ethnicities who “care about being black or issues surrounding blackness” to come.
Ultimately, Fenton hopes the cook-out will initiate dialogue on campus and inspire more students to participate in the BSU. “If there’s any one thing I want people to walk away with after coming to the cook-out, it’s that the color of your skin doesn’t matter. We’re all people. We should start acting like it,” Fenton said.
Lacey Jacoby is the Features Editor of the Pioneer Log. Her work has also appeared in the Portland Tribune, the Beaverton Valley Times, The Times, the Portland Observer and on the Lewis & Clark website. She enjoys writing about and photographing the everyday, with all its inherent beauty and strife. Find more of her work at laceyjacoby.weebly.com and follow her on Twitter @laceyjacoby.