Black Student Center Lacking Leadership

The Black Student Center is a place where students can go to see a familiar and friendly face, learn about issues that effect the African American community here at UMass Boston and beyond, study for classes, or just hang out. According to the advisor for the BSC, Bob Cole, it is committed “to promoting black issues and concerns” across the UMB campus and to providing “a safe haven for new students to socialize.”

However, with the loss of student coordinator Erica Singletary, the BSC has been leaderless since the beginning of the semester. Singletary had fully intended to continue her duties as coordinator of the center from last semester and had in fact put in countless man hours over the break, including Christmas Eve, to come up with programming for the center during Black History Month. Unfortunately, due to some delays in securing her financial aid, Singletary was not technically an enrolled student at the beginning of this semester, and therefore, according to university policy, could not continue her duties as an employee of the school.

Although she was officially enrolled by the first Thursday of the semester, it was by that point unfortunately too late. Cole, faced with the proposition of beginning the semester without a coordinator and following protocol, was forced to open up the job to all applicants. Singletary was invited to re-apply for the job, but a decision about the position will not be made for some time and she cannot afford to be unemployed in the interim while waiting for the selection process to run its course.

Since advertising the position, Cole has had upwards of 15-20 applicants but only one or two warranting a second look and interview. According to Mr. Cole, most of the applying students are just “looking for a job” and do not necessarily have the skills, experience, grade point average, and passion to deal with the issues that effect African Americans at UMass Boston. Mr. Cole explains that most applicants do not have the dedication that it would take to be the leader of the BSC. He also explained that the BSC needs a cooperative leader that could work with other student center’s coordinators and administrators in order to find solutions to problems affecting many groups of people here at UMB. “I’m looking for (a student) with good leadership ability,” Mr. Cole explained, “an undergraduate that would be fully committed to the mission of the Black Student Center.”

Currently Cole is working with the William Monroe Trotter institute, a program inside UMass Boston that provides African American Studies courses, and the African Student Union to try to find a replacement for Singletary. Until then there is a loose advisory board consisting of three students governing the BSC’s day-to-day activities and running the center, although they do not have access to the center’s funds and are thus very limited in what they can do.

Singletary, for her part, isn’t bitter about the way the events transpired; she just wishes it had worked out better. She believes that the center was moving in a very positive direction, and does see it as somewhat of a “slap in the face” to have spent much of her break working unpaid preparing for the semester and then not be able to execute any of her plans due to bureaucratic snafus. “Rules are rules, and I totally get that,” Singletary explained, “I wouldn’t expect anyone to bend them for little old me…everybody played by the rules and did what they were supposed to do and I can’t fault anyone for that”.

In fact, the part of the whole ordeal that the former coordinator is most annoyed about is the constant rumors about her that are circulating throughout the school. “People are being told I dropped out, people are being told that I’m on some sort of academic probation and I can’t come to school,” Singletary lamented. “People are being told that I withdrew; that I just walked away from the Black Student Center and didn’t care and that was that. People are being told I got fired, people were being told all kinds of things.”

So although things may seem bleak now for the BSC that Singletary and many others “poured their blood sweat and tears into”, she pointed out that despite the fact that it may not be as visible and the programming for the center has ground to a halt, all hope is not lost. “There will always be a Black Student Center, whether there is or isn’t a coordinator.”

As of time of press, a clear candidate for the coordinator position at the BSC has yet to be named and Cole is still taking applications. Interested students are asked to apply via Monster Track or by getting in touch with Cole in his office on the third floor of the Campus Center behind the clubs and centers.