On April 15th, the Wilmington College Black Student Initiative (BSI) organization presented it’s 10th annual “No Offense…But” program. Students were able to write down any question they had about the opposite sex, gender, race, or stereotype in Pyle during lunch and dinner hours the week prior to the event. These questions were then presented to a panel of students that represented 8 different categories: Athletes, Greek organizations, Aggies, White/Blacks, LGBT, Cuban/Hispanic, International Students, and Multicultural students. The program was held from 7:30-9:00p.m at the Top and invited all students and staff to attend.
Jada Brown and Marcus Benson, BSI President and Vice President, went through question submissions prior to the event. After students and staff gathered for the event, with snacks and beverages provided, Brown and Benson started to read the questions out loud. After each question was read, the panel member representing that category would answer the question. Then the floor was open to any crowd member that wanted to contribute to the discussion. This event aims to give students the chance to ask questions that they are clueless or curious about the opposite sex, race, or culture in a non-threatening atmosphere. The questions, some serious and some funny, are anonymous. Benson explained BSI’s intentions further as he addressed that the event “Is intended to make some people upset in a way to change their attitude or perspective about a particular topic. It is not in any way meant to offend- rather it helps to get people aware of what’s different from your own norms.” This is a time to come together as a community to answer these difficult questions of student interest.
There were many questions discussed at the program; here are a few that stirred the crowd to speak out: “Athletes, why do you think you are the best at everything?”, “Whites, why do you feel awkward around Black people?”, “Greek, why do you think you’re above everyone on campus?”, and “LGBT, why do gays flirt with straight males?” To give an example of one of the discussions senior Bekah Muchmore represented the Greek community and answered the question addressing Greek superiority; “We get really excited about our new sisters because they are like family. Once you go through that month, you are my sister for life.” Another senior, Timmy Wiederhold stated that “Greeks do things on campus that receive recognition such as events and community service. We get excited about these accomplishments and being a part of the community.”
Abigail Jude, Freshman representative for Whites and Athletes expressed her impression from being on the panel: “I felt like I was more involved in the discussion than if I had just been in the audience. Also, I felt like I was helping others with questions just by offering my opinions and thoughts on the subjects.” Her favorite part of the program was when the discussion was opened up to the audience which allowed the debate to extend outside of the panel representatives. Benson shared some of his reflections on the outcome of the event and wishes that some of the questions and responses be taken more seriously in the future. However, he concluded that his favorite part of the program was the attendance; “So many people come out to support this event- not only to come and hear funny comments or questions but to be mindful of things going on and why people do certain things.” At the heart of BSI and of Wilmington College’s core values is to raise awareness and promote multiculturalism throughout the student body, campus environment, and beyond to our community.