UNT’ing While Black event promotes networking of black alumni, faculty and students

UNT’ing While Black event promotes networking of black alumni, faculty and students

UNT’ing While Black event promotes networking of black alumni, faculty and students
March 01
10:00 2019

More than 60 students, faculty and staff who are black-identifying came together on Thursday evening for UNT’ing While Black, a networking dinner hosted by the UNT Multicultural Center in collaboration with the Black Professional Network, Black Alumni Network, Black Faculty Network and Black Student Union.

Held at the Union, it was sponsored in full by the UNT Alumni Association.

“This is something I felt absolutely needed to happen,” said Stephon Bradberry, president of the Black Student Union. “There has never been a full-on gathering of every entity that represents black folks on campus.”

Bradberry, an integrative studies senior, was one of the organizers of the event. He said it was inspired by Dinner with a Dozen, a past event hosted by the Alumni Association where students could engage with 12 alumni members.

Attendees at UNT’ing While Black had the chance to engage with people outside of their normal networks to share their experiences being a black person at UNT. It also served as a chance for members of the black community to get acquainted with one another.

“What happened in there is students making connections with people that genuinely have a vested interest in their success,” Bradberry said. “They have an interest in what they’re going to do for the world [and] what they’re going to do for this community.”

Bradberry said there are 53 tenured and non-tenured black faculty members out of more than 1,000 faculty members at UNT. There are 98 black staff members in comparison to about 630 white staff members, he said.

Additionally, Bradberry said that black students comprise of about 14 percent of the undergraduate and graduate student population.

Students talk and network with faculty and alumni of UNT during the UNT’ing while Black program presented by BSU and the Multicultural Center. Image by: Trevon McWilliams.

“At higher [education], we get so numbers oriented that we forget the stories behind [those] numbers,” Bradberry said. “And this night was story. Not numbers, but stories.”

At the event, students, faculty and staff were grouped with people who had a similar major or career path. Aundrea Caraway, the Student Engagement Committee Chair for the Black Professional Network, said she wanted faculty and staff to be a source of understanding and advice for students in their field.

“It’s a chance for [students] to have access to black faculty, black staff and black alumni so that they can see that we are here on campus and we support them,” Caraway said. “But, also so that they can hear and learn about how we manage microaggressions or discrimination in the workplace.”

Brooke Roberson, a marketing junior and founder of the UNT Black Out Alliance, said she appreciated the Multicultural Center for hosting the event. She previously had trouble connecting with faculty members within her major and said this event helped her with networking.

“Even though UNT is diverse — and Denton in general — you don’t really get to see black people in Denton who are doing good things,” Roberson said. “So that’s something I really enjoyed about [this].”

Though Roberson said her experience as a black student at UNT has been “alright,” she said her experience as both a black and LGBT student has not been the best.

“It’s kind of hard figuring out how to deal with that intersectionality,” Roberson said.

She created the Black Out Alliance for that exact reason.

“As time is progressing, I’ve been finding my space more,” Roberson said. “And also creating my own space too.”

The president of the Black Professional Network, Teresa McKinney, said she believes that a caring community at UNT is one that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. She compared this to the concept of beautiful tapestry being full of different designs.

“They have all these rich colors and these rich fabrics that are woven throughout the entire quilt or tapestry,” McKinney said. “I feel like UNT has that perfect opportunity to be this beautiful tapestry of a caring community.”

McKinney is also the assistant vice president of Student Affairs at UNT and said she saw UNT’ing While Black as an opportunity to create bridges between black students and black faculty and staff.

“I think that it’s important for people to be able to put a name to a face and for students to be able to connect to somebody that looks like them,” McKinney said. “And to see the possibilities for their future.”

Featured Image: Black Student Union President Stephon Bradberry talking to students, staff, faculty and alumni during the “UNT’ing While Black” program. Image by: Trevon McWilliams.

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Jasmine Robinson

Jasmine Robinson

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