Oklahoma Baptist University's student senate recently approved the creation of a new campus organization called United Students of Color. The organization's founders hope to promote diversity and relationships on campus.
"I feel that in order to unify the campus as a whole, we need to start with small groups," said Demetrius Hicks, a junior from Lawton, Okla., who serves as United Students of Color president. "Of course anyone is open to come to the meetings - we want everyone to come regardless or race, color, sex or anything."
Hicks said he realized the need for such a campus organization during a meeting with OBU's diversity committee. He contacted several other members of the OBU community to ask if they were interested in starting the group. He began to network with students on campus, and they started the process of becoming an official campus organization.
To be recognized as an official organization, a group must have a written constitution, a petition with 10 student signatures and a faculty sponsor. The group met the requirements, with Monica Mullins, director of student success, agreeing to serve as the sponsor.
"I believe the group will provide an excellent place for relationships to develop as well as for students to enhance their leadership skills," Mullins said. "My desire is that, through the efforts of this group, we will all become more aware of the rich cultural, racial, religious, political and ideological diversity that exists on our campus.
"Awareness is not enough," Mullins said. "We must also learn to embrace those who are different than we are. I believe this group can help us accomplish this."
The group's final step was to present their organization to the student senate for approval. Luke Small, a junior senator from Owasso, Okla., authored the bill.
"I think this is a great organization," Small said. "It is one that will impact the campus in a great way."
A unanimous decision by the student senate on Feb. 11 made the organization official. Hicks and other organization hopefuls attended the senate meeting to show their support for the group. Student Government Association Vice-President Lindsey Faught congratulated the group during the meeting for their work to coordinate the new organization.
"We put a lot of work into planning this organization," Hicks said. "We encountered a few setbacks, but it has been a blessing to be involved in such a historical event. What we realize is that the work doesn't end after becoming official. It just begins.
The group officially begins during the traditional February celebration of Black History Month. As a group, the organization hopes to complete community service projects and to grow together through Bible studies and fellowship with one another.
"My main goal is to eventually show everyone on campus and within the surrounding community that we aren't as different from each other as our skin colors make us out to be," said Hicks. "We all endure the same trials and tribulations."
United Students of Color will meet every first and third Wednesday of the month in Bailey Business Center, room 105. Currently there are 25 students involved in the organization.
"I encourage all members of the OBU community to become active within the group regardless of race," Hicks said. "This group is a tool for unison, not separatism."