February is Black History Month and the Ethnic Student Center (ESC) is hosting events to celebrate it.
The 16th Annual Black History Month Dinner is being hosted the Black Student Union (BSU) at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 9 in the VU Multipurpose Room.
“This dinner is a big deal,” BSU president Dennis Williams Jr. said. “Everyone from campus is invited as well as anyone from the community. Alumni are also a big part of this event; they like to see what the club has been up to since they left campus. We want this to be a big family and community event.”
The dinner, which raises money for the ESC scholarship funds, typically hosts approximately 200 people, he said. In addition to a meal, there will be guest lectures, student speakers and performances, a choir and a silent auction. Also, attendees can make tax-deductible donations towards the scholarship fund, Williams said.
“Pamela Gant will be the keynote speaker at the event,” Williams said. “She is a Western alumnus who is partially responsible for the resurgence for the ESC in the early nineties. She will be speaking to our theme of the dinner this year, Redefining Black: The Resilience and Endurance of a People.”
According to Williams, the theme was a collaboration of students at the BSU and a combination of several different theme ideas.
“As a group, in current media, music, and movies, we are portrayed as stereotypical characters. We need to remind the community and ourselves we can more then fall into those stereotypical futures. We are more then we are portrayed, we are students, teachers and scholars,” Williams said. “As a whole, we can not be fit into a box.”
Interested students can purchase tickets at the Performing Arts Center or online at http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase. Tickets cost $10 for students and $15 for general. Money from ticket sales will go towards repaying the cost of putting the dinner on, and all the extra will go to ESC programming and scholarships.
“We really want to publicize it, we want to pack the place,” Williams said.
Williams said the fundraiser is a good way to use the 3-to-1 match from the AS. For every dollar that the ESC contributes to the scholarship fund, the AS will give three dollars.
“What I've noticed is that Western talks a lot about diversity. A big part of diversity is sharing in the experiences of others,” Williams said. “We want people to experience black history and share our culture. Everyone is welcome to this dinner; I think its going to be our biggest event of the year.”
Several other events are going on around the ESC in addition to the dinner. All throughout Black History Month there will be a calendar posted in the ESC (Viking Union 420) will a list of different professors, poets and other guests who will be coming to Western, Williams said.
The BSU is also bringing Dr. Cornel West to campus on Feb. 19.
“He is an expert on race relations; he is a distinguished professor of Religion and African American Studies from Princeton University. This could easily be the event of the year,” Williams said. “We have poet who is going to open for him, and then there will be an hour discussion, followed by a question and answer section with the audience.”
On Feb. 20 the ESC is hosting a Bowl-a-Thon to raise money for the ESC scholarships. The event is held at 7:30 p.m. at 20th Century Bowl which is located on 1411 North State Str.
“We want to make the most of the 3-to-1 match that the AS board gave to scholarships two years ago. Interested students can come by the ESC and pick up a pledge sheet,” coordinator and activities advisor to the ESC Michael Vendiola said. “Students then can get donations per pin, or a flat rate, and then on the 20th they come and bowl. This is a fundraiser for scholarships and everyone is welcome to take part.”
The African Caribbean Club will be hosting their 9th Annual Culture Night at 5:30 p.m. on March 3 in the VU Multipurpose Room.
“The event will feature a dinner with cultural dishes from different African and Caribbean areas,” Vendiola said. “There will be a performance by Gabriel Teodros as well as different students groups from the club. Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Kunle Ojikutu, assistant vice president for student affairs and academic supports.”
Tickets can be purchased at the Performing Arts Center.