A Discussion on Race: The BSU Diversity Talk


Quinn Arzt, Staff Reporter

February 16th, 2023, marked the Fairmont State University Black Student Union’s “A Discussion on Race,” an event focused on understanding diversity and inclusion while allowing attendees to share their stories and personal experiences to expand others’ worldviews. The student leaders of BSU and those in attendance convened in the library in room MMB at 7:30 pm. The Black Student Union is an Affinity group on campus that strives to offer Fairmont State University and the surrounding community opportunities for cultural enrichment and intellectual growth through educational, social, and political programming. This conference was one of the many events hosted by this organization in an effort to cultivate an environment of acceptance and support for the diverse members of the campus.

The discussion began with everyone introducing themselves in a fun way with the popular “Two Truths and a Lie” icebreaker. With the total number of participants being about 15 people, the group quickly familiarized themselves with each other before they delved into the controversial subject of the night. Following the introductions, Secretary Gabrielle Walker offered a link to an anonymous evaluation of the personal comfort levels of those who took the quiz. The results were kept private, but the overall scores and their meanings were briefly discussed before the presentation’s main portion began. Groundwork was laid for the night’s discussions by participants defining the terms Diversity and Inclusion and identifying what those terms meant to them. To supplement the statements produced by attendees, the short video “Inclusion begins with I” was shown, prompting additional ideas to be proposed.

The second part of the event was an activity regarding personal experience. The attendees were split into two groups and given a sheet of questions to consider and respond to. Questions included prompts like “Have you ever felt unsafe on campus?”, “What kind(s) of discrimination have you experienced, if any?” and “Do you feel you have a voice in your club/sport/other institutional group?”  These led to short discussions about various Affinity and Interest Groups on campus, experience on and off the field in sports, and even proposed ideas on changes that could be made. The small group discussions migrated to intergroup conversations, which were directed back to the open dialogue.

After reviewing the questions and comparing both groups’ answers, everyone returned to their seats to participate in the concluding activity. A bowl of folded pieces of paper was offered to each person, where they would draw a random prompt regarding their opinion on diversity, discrimination, and experiences they had. Everyone got a chance to speak, though some conversations were longer-lasting and heavier than others. Questions included a variety of minority group topics, like gender labor division, sexuality discrimination, ethnic biases, and other ideas not related just racism.

The event hosted various ages and majors, making for a conversation with many different points of view and drawing from many parts of life. The event atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, surprisingly comfortable for a topic typically classified as controversial. Despite being seen as a risky topic, the motivation was academically driven rather than confronting others or inciting an argument. “This is a collection of educational content and discussion based on our own experience,” said BSU President Vetria about the event’s premise. Overall, the “Discussion on Race” was carried out with minimal setbacks and a high approval rating from attendees.

Check out the Black Student Union on Instagram @fsublackstudentunion to stay updated on the organization’s plans and events like this one. Fairmont State is looking forward to what they present next.