Anchor Intro: Black or Pan-African Studies programs across the country share many of the same core values. What are those values and what makes Kent Sates so unique? Reporter Savanna McCarthy has the answer.
The Pan African Studies Department of Kent State University is unique in many ways. One in particular being that its one of the only Pan African Studies programs in the US that has it own building, Oscar Ritchie Hall. Why you ask? Students and their voices.
The need for diversity was evident in the 1960’s. In the midst of riots, protest, and sit in’s in conjunction with the civil rights movement Black United Students, or BUS was formed on Kent State’s campus. One of their demands was a department that focused solely on teaching Black students about their history, Black history, a center for Pan-African Culture.
Located in the old “Student Center” of Kent State University, Oscar Ritchie is often referred to as the “House That BUS built”. Student Involvement in curriculum decision-making and faculty hiring help make the Ritchie truly feel like home.
BUS required the employment of scholars knowledgeable on Black and African History within the department, no matter their color, that interacted with students and created learning environments that helped blacks feel welcome on campus.
“A lot of time we hear that we’re young and we don’t know very much, but it felt good to know that faculty was interested in what they needed to make their departments better, what students want to see from professors.”
What’s a better way to guarantee that than involving student’s in the hiring process? Some of the core values of the department are centered on knowing what it takes to create a strong community and having students be a part of that process.
“Black Studies on a whole as discipline is unique because it came out of the student movement, so embedded in its core values is the involvement of students.”
Needless to say this student centered departments way of operating won’t be changing any time soon.
For TV2 I’m Savanna McCarthy