34On Monday and Tuesday, representatives from the University RSOs gathered at the Illini Union for the annual spring Involvement Fair.
The event hosted RSOs ranging from cultural and academic organizations to club sports teams, presenting students from all backgrounds with the opportunity to develop professional skills, explore personal interests and find a community.
According to a 2020 research paper entitled “A brief social-belonging intervention in college improves adult outcomes for black Americans,” the need to find community on campus can feel even more pressing for Black students than for their white counterparts because of a phenomenon called “belonging uncertainty.”
David Sullivan, senior in Engineering who attended the fair as a representative of the National Society of Black Engineers, said that feelings of “belonging uncertainty” are sometimes caused by a lack of Black community in the classroom.
“It might seem obvious on the surface, but something that a lot of students in my organization notice is that in almost all of their classes, they might be one or two of the only Black engineers,” Sullivan said. “There’s a sense of loneliness that comes with being a Black student in Grainger. There aren’t a lot of people to relate to in the college, and that’s a challenge.”
Sullivan went on to recommend that students facing these challenges take advantage of events like the Involvement Fair or Quad Day and try to speak to other Black students in their college.
“The Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center is a great resource with tons of connections to Black organizations,” Sullivan said. “There are so many other Black RSOs. Find a place to hang out and meet other people who are in a similar situation to you.”
Jada Allen, junior in LAS and founder of The Commu.n.i.t.y, a new Black RSO on campus, said her goal is to help students navigate being part of a multicultural and diverse community.
“Generally, people tend to find their groups, then they stay with them, but I want to break that apart,” Allen said. “I want people to, you know, get out there more and learn things from different people. Staying with the same people doesn’t push us to grow as human beings.”
According to Karsyn Williams, sophomore in Business and member of an RSO called Women of Color, it is important to find a place on campus that respects your background while also reaching academic and professional goals.
“Get involved with Black RSOs, but also with other academic clubs,” Williams said. “Learn while you build community, because that way you’re making sure that you fill your cup in every way.”
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