by Amber Lindsay
The Union, a new student organization on campus, is devoted to making a change and affecting students’ lives in a positive way.
According to Brenna Welch, a senior Communications major and co-founder of the organization, The Union was created by a handful of students who wanted to bring awareness to issues on campus, develop effective ways to eliminate discrimination and lend students a voice.
She said, as an organization, they plan to listen to students, look for solutions and aid in the implementation of solutions.
Welch explained that her and fellow student, Troy Flewellen, often discussed critical issues on campus. She said that their discussions grew to involve more students and that was how the organization was developed.
“Troy and I often discussed oppression and socially critical issues last spring,” she said. “Our discussions began to involve other students who urged us to look into creating a student organization.”
Instructor and faculty advisor of the organization Tanisha Billingslea said that Welch and Flewellen, among others, approached her at the end of the spring 2011 semester and asked if she would be the adviser for the organization. She said that The Union did not officially get started until the fall 2011 semester.
Billingslea said that The Union is seeking to spread awareness of events and issues that affect student life in order to improve it. According to Bilingslea, the one issue that the organization is currently working on is student safety after evening classes.
Billingslea said that the organization is trying to work with the campus police in order to get students who live near campus escorted to their homes, and students in evening classes escorted to their vehicles. She said that this was something that the campus police had previously been doing, but had quit.
“One of the things that The Union is concentrating on now is a concern about students that attend late evening classes and students that live around the area and how they get home,” Billingslea said. “I think that campus police had been escorting them, but had to stop. The organization is trying to work with them to see if they can get that going again.”
Welch noted that something else they are doing to improve student’s rights is working closely with the Student Government Association. She said that they also plan to host various events.
Welch said the first of these events, an open mic night called “Uncut,” was held Tuesday, Sept. 20, and that students as well as individuals from the Lawton and Fort Sill community performed.
Billingslea said that a very diverse group attended the event and despite the differences, they were all supportive of one another. She said that the event was a success with approximately 50 people attending.
The good thing about that event was that people from several different ethnic backgrounds came together and were supportive of each other.”
Billingslea said that The Union is planning to host open mic night once a month, although currently no decision on the exact time and day of the month.
Billingslea said she is proud of The Union as an organization and, although members may not agree on everything, they do agree that they can come together and make a difference on campus.
“I’m just really proud of the organization and what they stand for, which is the whole idea of everyone having a voice,” she said. “They differ in opinion on things, but what they do agree on is that they can come together and listen to each other in order to effect change.”
Image: A rally within blocks of the White House brought out several thousand protestors to mark the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan War, Thursday, October 6, 2011 at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. Planning for the rally began six months ago, but the event’s timing dovetailed perfectly with nationwide protests in support of theOccupy Wall Street demonstration in New York City. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)