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Caucus creates resource group

November 8, 2000

A new caucus group hopes to diminish feelings of isolation for black students living off campus.

The MSU University Apartment Black Caucus Association was started after several students received an e-mail asking if anyone would be interested in starting a black caucus for university apartment residents.

Kellie Howard, a psychology senior and Spartan Village resident, was one of the first to respond.

Howard, the acting vice president for the newly formed caucus, said though university apartment residents founded the group, she hopes the caucus will become a resource for all black students living outside of the residence halls.

“At least being in the dorms, you have the support of MAs, the RAs and the caucus,” Howard said. “People already feel out of it just as black students, but you become even more isolated as a black student living off campus. The most important thing we wanted to do was create a support system.”

This is the first time students living outside residence halls have formed a black caucus. Murray Edwards, MSU’s senior coordinator for Minority Student Affairs, said the caucus can provide a sense of community to students who may feel secluded from other minority students.

“A lot of times folks that live off campus go to their own apartment and do their own thing, but they don’t interact with each other,” he said. “This is a chance for them to do that.”

And Howard said providing a support system for students is one of the group’s many goals, as well as promoting unity, increasing awareness of campus issues and expanding intellectual development among all students.

She also said another major goal for the caucus is to promote “cross-cultural competence” between black students and neighbors of other ethnic backgrounds.

Howard said the caucus will provide black students living in university apartments with a place to voice their issues outside of calling campus police when problems arise.

Black Student Alliance President Tonya Upthegrove said she thinks the new caucus is long overdue, and said it will provide a much-needed resource to black students.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” she said. “They need some sort of outlet to get together and discuss issues as well as build a community within the university apartments.

“Especially not living in the residence halls, those students are sometimes lacking in knowledge of events and issues that are happening on campus.”

Upthegrove said she hopes the university will show its support by providing funding for the caucus. The first meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 in the Spartan Village Community Center.

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