Arts and Features Writer
“BIPOC Advocacy Week” featured events that gave students of color in the community a voice on campus. This past iteration (succeeded in these efforts) through a coordinated effort led by the Student Government Association and other racial minority based organizations on UNC Asheville’s campus.
“BIPOC Advocacy Week gives us, BIPOC students, a platform. On campus, you don’t often hear about us, much less from us. This week is an invitation to pass the mic. It’s extremely important for advocacy work that’s about us to not happen without us,” said Rita Martinez, the president of Hermanes Orgulloses en las Américas.
UNCA’s clubs aimed to provide a huge amount of support for minority groups on campus. The plethora of events hosted by them during BIPOC Advocacy Week highlighted this fact. In one instance, the Black Student Association initiated a panel focusing on supporting students attending a predominantly white institution. It included a curated interview with both panelists, audience questions and an overall encouraging environment for Black students to express their opinions.
“It’s important for students of color to have a space to celebrate our diversity. There’s only a handful of non-white students and it’s nice to have our clubs highlighted,” said Jas Washington, president of the BSA.
Another group of organizations, Asian Students in Asheville and Prospaspinca, hosted an event dedicated to helping students of color meet and interact with others in their community in a safe and relaxed environment. The clubs brought food and music and left the evening to the students to mingle how they would like.
“I really hope that even though we’re a PWI, more BIPOC students feel like they belong here. And I also hope that through all of these events that non-BIPOC students are kind of understanding what their role and privileges are in creating a safe space for BIPOC students.” President of ASIA, Baye Samodal said.
To end the week, an Arts and Features show, hosted by SGA, provided a way for minority students to display their talents. The show included art, music and poetry as multiple students expressed their struggles as a marginalized group through an outlet they were passionate about.
“For students to flourish at an institution that is not constructed for them there is a need for these types of spaces and weeks,” said Kathia Fuentes Beyhaut president of Prospanica.
Multiple organizers said “BIPOC Advocacy Week” worked both to uplift the voices of those in marginalized groups and to address the work that still needs to be done. Although this is the first iteration of BIPOC Advocacy Week, with strong ambitions the student organization leaders said there’s a hope that this will be a tradition that lasts a long time.
“My dad likes to tell me that we owe it to our ancestors and our descendants to persevere through la lucha, or the struggle. It’s our absolute duty. We are part of something greater,” Martinez said.