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CHAMPION Minority coalition regroups at Kent State



Published: Mon, June 18, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



By JENNINE ZELEZNIK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

CHAMPION -- With a student body constantly on the move, it's difficult for clubs to stay active and keep members at the Trumbull Campus of Kent State University.

The Independent Black Minority Coalition is going to give it one more try.

Formed in 1976, the coalition became defunct by the late '90s. Renewed student interest -- and prodding from former president Obafemia Awolowo -- has brought the group back.

"Students were looking for something. They wanted to do something more than just go to classes," president Tausha Blackwell said.

Though still tiny, the coalition hopes to see its numbers grow with the incoming first-year students in the fall, Blackwell said.

Adviser Evelina Smith said anyone who feels like a minority -- whether a woman or person of Hispanic, Asian, black or other background -- is welcome.

"This campus has a great deal of potential," Blackwell said. "Students want to be active; they want to contribute to the Trumbull campus as a force."

Part of their new program includes a possible peer mentoring program for freshmen, Smith said. Other initiatives include having more schools visit the campus and recruiting.

Main objective: The major goal for the group, though, is to take strength from its diversity.

"We learn to use that diversity as an advantage, not as a handicap," Smith said. "We want to be an agent of change, and we want to do it in a positive way."

Most of the coalition's programming is made up of lectures. Some from the past year included talks on racial profiling and interacting with the deaf community, as well as a how-to on public speaking.

"We've had some very beautiful people help us to be aware of the cultural challenges we face," Smith said. "We are not confrontational. The students here learn how to deal with difficult people and difficult situations without losing their cool."

In an instance of racial profiling, for example, students learn that if they are stopped at any time, they should not be confrontational.

"The man with the gun has the power," Smith said. "Be humble, be meek, and stay calm."

During the group's heyday in the '80s, members were able to raise over $5,000 for scholarships. It hopes to be a strong force on campus once again.

"The value of a group like this is that you are counted," Smith said. "They realize that you are serious. And when they realize that you are serious about change, then you are recognized as positive agents. There is unity and strength in that."

jzeleznik@vindy.com




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