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Creating community

BY ALEX RICH | JANUARY 20, 2010 7:30 AM

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When Dominic Dagen came to campus four years ago, she was looking for a place to fit in.

“I lived in Parklawn, which is, beside Mayflower, one of the farther dorms, so I decided to get into an organization just to meet people,” she said.

She found what she was looking for in the UI Black Student Union, and she has been an active member for the past four years.

Dagen’s story is not unusual for the many ethnic minority students who come to the UI, and especially not to Brandon Parker, the group’s president, who leads the organization of 56 members.

Parker, like Dagen, joined the group because he “sought out to find an environment that felt like a home away from home.”

The sense of identity that the group brings to campus cannot be played down.

“In Iowa, it’s a little bit harder [to find a sense of community] simply because each group is so small,” Dagen said.



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The Black Student Union brings its members together through many events, such as participating in programs during the Martin Luther King Jr. festival, as well as being actively involved in community service throughout the year. The group hosts discussion sessions, Bible studies, shared meals, and other activities.

Parker said that through these avenues, the group aims “toward creating a sense of family and unity to our often underrepresented peers, increasing the retention rate of our peers, broadening their viewpoints and horizons, and just having fun.”

The organization also participates in community service projects, such as volunteering at the Spot, a Christian youth center in Iowa City’s Broadway area.

“It’s a way for the black students on campus to interact with high-school students in the area and just give back,” Dagen said.

The Black Student Union also brings to light issues in the community that already may have awareness at historically black colleges and universities.

“My cousins go to [such schools], and they get information about things going on in the black community that don’t reach Iowa City for whatever reason,” Dagen said. “[The role of the Black Student Union is] just to keep black students aware of situations that may be going on.”

Membership in the organization has also helped Dagen’s personal life, providing her with several benefits.

“I know that as far as finding scholarships, internships, things like that, I’ve been able to kind of cultivate that unity with teachers,” she said.

The group meets biweekly on Thursdays and is open to new members, who can sign up simply by filling out a short form.

“All in all its the members that make the [the union] what it is,” Parker said. “It will never thrive without unity. My slogan is, It’s B.S. without U.”


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