SLRS hosts first event

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Photo by Francesca Norman

After the controversy surrounding the club’s formation last semester, the Student Leaders for Racial Solidarity (SLRS) club held its first event last week at the University of Dallas, offering a chance for students to discuss their opinions, race-related or otherwise, in a neutral setting. 

The “Celebrate Black History” event occurred on the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 24, and drew a decent crowd.  

Senior Joshua Nunn, president of the club, estimated that about 30 students attended the event in the SB Hall Multipurpose Room.

Some, as he joked in his club’s introduction to the crowd, were there because of the Domino’s pizza provided. However, he hoped they learned about the club’s mission to be a platform for conversation.

A few posters featuring Black artists and writers such as Ralph Ellison, Sam Cooke, and James Baldwin  decorated the event. They were created by a graphic designer who supports the club.

A QR code on each of the posters allowed a viewer to scan and open a link to a brief biography of each Black artist, varying from musicians to authors.

“We just wanted to have an educational opportunity for Black History Month,” Nunn said.

Despite the concern last semester about the club’s agenda as it pertains to racial discussions, the student conversations were relaxed and open.

As a Mexican-American, I met Nunn for the first time when he introduced himself to me at the “Celebrate Black History Event.” I asked about the QR-coded posters and mentioned that I enjoyed reading the stories of Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison.

After I confessed to being unfamiliar with Ellison’s work, Nunn admitted he has not gotten around to reading The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, either, but said it is one of the great literary works he wants to read. 

While club officers introduced themselves and talked with students over pizza and soda, music from a Spotify playlist featuring all Black musicians, like Michael Jackson and Billie Holiday, played in the background.

“I just wanted to get some members of the UD community out and just talk with them, learn about their experiences and what they felt we could do to serve them,” Nunn said.

One student attendee, junior Damian Kosciolek, thought the event was “well played out and organized.”

As Secretary of Student Government, Kosciolek remained neutral in the SG discussions last semester concerning the vote for the club’s approval.

“On Feb. 5, President Hibbs approved the Student Leaders for Racial Solidarity (SLRS), a proposed club formerly known as Student Leaders for Racial Justice and Student Leaders for Racial Progress, without student approval in the senate. The approval followed conflict on campus about whether the club should be formed, with some opponents concerned that its focus on race would be divisive,” stated a Feb. 5 article of The University News.  

Kosciolek said the event was a “first greeting,” allowing club officers to interact with students at a social event, something clubs typically do at the beginning of the semester.

UD students should know that the club “is run by good, honest people with integrity,” Kosciolek said “It’s a platform, so they want to encourage people of all stances and opinions to come and try to work through these differences and unite the community.”

In the club’s updated constitution, the first listed purpose of the club is “to promote a community that is collaborative in its efforts to love each other as brothers and sisters created in the image and likeness of God, according to the Great Commandment.”

The second purpose listed in the club’s constitution is “to embrace and celebrate all cultures, races, and ethnicities, according to the universality that the Christian faith was founded on.”

Nunn’s plans as club president include providing opportunities for community service in minority neighborhoods in Dallas and hosting speakers concerned with racial solidarity over the spring semester.

Student Leaders for Racial Solidarity is hosting a Zoom conference call with Gloria Purvis on March 4 in collaboration with Coworkers in the Vineyard and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

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