By Chloe Bailey
Elm Staff Writer
Wednesday, Feb. 1 marked the beginning of Black History Month, and the Washington College Black Student Union treated the entire campus to a beautiful exhibition of culture and tradition. To set off this month’s celebration of African American heritage, the BSU hosted a dinner in Hodson Hall, intended to, “bring the many traditional and common cultural foods of Afro-Americans to the dining hall…embracing the major cultural food areas: Soul Food…, Cajun and Creole foods, as well as Caribbean influenced food,” BSU president Danielle Bing said. This impressive spread of dishes included fried fish and chicken, mac n cheese, Po’boy sandwiches and gumbo, to name a few.
Donald Stanwick, Director of Dining, expressed his per- sonal excitement to work with leaders in the BSU in order to facilitate the event they had envisioned since December. As a department, Stanwick said Dining Services is “looking to be more engaged with different cultures, communities and people throughout campus…Our ultimate goal is to create a dining program in which every student can be proud of, be engaged with, know that their suggestions matter and drive what we do.” Bing commended this collaboration, noting Stanwick’s, “flexibility and acceptance of the menu and encouragement to even send recipes to ensure that the food was made properly.” The meal reflected this spirit of inclusivity, highlighting food from several different Afro-centric cultures. Several of the menu items, including the fried chicken, cornbread, and watermelon, were particularly popular among even the pick- iest eaters in the student body. “Food is a very important part of every culture, and learning about different cultures through eating helps educate everyone,” said freshman Savannah Ross.
No detail was ignored, with desserts from each culture represented and table decorations with famous African American historical figures on them. Freshman Jess Burns said the decorations “were really cool and [she] thinks it meant a lot to people of color at our school to have representation.” She said she could tell it meant a lot to her roommate, who is an active member of the BSU. It is increasingly important to promote cultural and racial acceptance, and Bing has suggestions for students looking to do so.
“First, acknowledge and engage in dialogue about race and various cultural identities. Second, take the time to re- search/Google something regularly pertaining to race and other cultures. Third, attend a club meeting or event pertain- ing to or hosted by a cultural club. Fourth, take a class pertain- ing to race or culture, and fifth visit the Center for the Study of Black Culture located in Caroline House.” Armed with these suggestions, students at WAC should feel empowered to work together in order to make everyone feel recognized and appreciated both on and off campus.