By | Lora Neshovska
With the official beginning of the new school year, clubs and organizations on campus are off to a strong start, including the African American Center for Academic Excellence, also known as the AACAE.
The Center hosted their first event of the semester on Sept. 2, 2017, a Welcome Black Reception, to incoming and returning Humboldt State University students. The event brought together students and faculty of all different ages, genders, and races together to kick off the new school year.
The AACAE is a student support space on the campus of HSU that aims to celebrate our multicultural campus by providing a guiding resource for students who identify as African American, Black or of African descent, as well as the entire university community. The organization was established in 2015 and since then has been continuously contributing to the efforts of making the Humboldt campus more inclusive and safe.
Erin Youngblood-Smith, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Social Work and interning at the AACAE says, this semester, the Center’s goals are to continue helping, providing academic support and guidance for the student body of the HSU campus, as well as planning and collaborating with outside services, as well as other campus-based clubs on upcoming events.
Additionally, the AACAE has a serious agenda this semester, following the murder of David Josiah Lawson in April.
Jimento Aikhuele, a graduate student majoring in Environmental Engineering and intern at the AACAE said that the event is what brought him into the Center. “I knew the local [population] would be down and they might need support, one way or another.”
Both Youngblood-Smith and Aikhuele agree there is a gap between the Humboldt University community and the Arcata community that must be bridged.
“There cannot be a separation between the campus and the local community, there needs to be really structured communication,” Youngblood-Smith said, “stronger ties between the city and the university’ In order for all students to feel safe.”
Youngblood-Smith advocates education, such as conversations and workshops on safety in communities other than your own.
“That’s a priority, making sure our students know there are dangers everywhere and you need to be aware of them,” Youngblood-Smith said.
One student that has benefited from AACAE’s resources and proactivity is 19-year-old senior Psychology major Gabrielle Fox.
Fox says her transition to HSU would not have been as smooth if it wasn’t for the Center.
“There are people there who genuinely, truly want to see you succeed, it really makes a difference when you know you have somebody, who has your back and genuinely wants to see you the best that you could be,” Fox said.
According to Fox, to be willing to open your mind to different experiences and opinion is a significant step to inclusivity on campus and in the community.