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Black Student Union: The BSU Takes a Strong Stand (4/1980)

The history of Ferrum Colleges Black Student Union.

Iron Blade Vols. 25-27 Fall 1979-Spring 1982

Vol. 25 #12 (April 24, 1980) Page 2 “The BSU Takes a Strong Stand” by The BSU

It is high time the Ferrum community began to address the issues that face its Black students–the crux of which is “token” representation on the faculty. Accordingly, one is able to understand Mr. Andrew Baskin’s dilemma of trying to be all things to his black brothers and sisters and also, trying to fulfill his awesome obligation to this institution as the “token” black representative in “all” things. Thus, we as black students thank God that he tirelessly pursues the issues that are vital to the black community. Let us make one thing perfectly clear from the outset, we know that both student, faculty and administration who will go on a tangent in order to try to make us forget the real issues i.e., “token representation on faculty, staff, and administration.”

However, with God’s help and our determination WE WILL NOT FORGET. The reason we will not forget is quite clear. Black students had problems created for them and we feel they all stem from one big problem we all share–no black representation on faculty and administration and only token representation in other areas. Ferrum College has boasted on many occasions about its Black student enrollment. It looks good on paper, and in reports, but we all know it is just “window dressing.” Blacks on Ferrum’s campus have chosen one month out of the school year to celebrate and learn about our proud black heritage and this leaves us as a community, and Andrew Baskin as one of the leaders, open to ridicule, vicious phone calls in the night, ignorant notes xeroxed and circulated, etc. Since it is obvious that his peers will remain “liberally” silent, we feel that it is our duty to let the community know that Andrew Baskin is not the only one that sees what this college is doing, or not doing.

While this month’s programs were initiated by blacks they were for the entire community. How else are we to live together peaceably if we do not know each other. Surely, a few programs are not too much to ask out of a whole year. Some students worked hard to present programs they could be proud of. But how would the white community know this! YOU WERE NOT THERE! So don’t criticize what you don’t know or care to know. The issue that spurred this on was the black representation on the panel that selected cheerleaders, but the real issue is clearly institutional racism. Complete neglect of the black population on this campus.

Indeed, Andrew Baskin’s position as the “token” black has left him in a dangerous position. He is the one that the “small minded” of our community see as the “instigator” of trouble among us. He is the “troublemaker.” Let us not be fooled! He is not alone, his very status as “token” has made him visible and vulnerable, but it has also garnered him respect. Let us say this before the editor or someone else does, No Andrew Baskin does not speak for all blacks on this campus, just as no white professor speaks for all whites on this campus, but he does speak for enough of us to let the community know that we are not pleased! We are not blind! Neither are we crazy and Andrew Baskin is only pointing out to you what we as black students know in our hearts is right.

We can hear the “small minded” of you saying, “If Andrew Baskin or any other black person does not like Ferrum, move on.” Let us not deal in folly! He has given too much, the ones before us have given too much. Don’t be fooled! If you close your eyes, WE WILL NOT GO AWAY. Neither will we forget or give up.

The Black Student Union accepts this as a challenge and we will take our challenge very, very seriously. Surely, after 13 years of integration an institution of higher learning would be able to figure out how to get more than one black person on faculty. WE WILL NOT ACCEPT EXCUSES! But we offer our help, encouragement and determination to help in this endeavor. WE WILL NOT COMPROMISE. For too many before us have so, believing in the fruitless promises of this institution. Andrew Baskin deserves your respect, not your scorn. Andrew Baskin deserves your help not your stumbling blocks. We will continue to question. It is our prayer that the college community will provide some answers.

Like our leader we have a question. Why is it that blacks on this campus are forgotten in all other endeavors except when the college recruits for athletics? 

Sincerely, The Black Student Union