DuBois Hamer Institute seeks to empower students

DuBois Hamer Institute’s Student Ambassadors, Deshonay Dozier, child and adolescent major, and Sara Tekle, psychology and Pan African studies major, present school cultural barrier issues during Tuesday’s presentation in the Whitsett Room in Sierra Hall. Photo Credit: Patrick Dilanchian / Contributing Photographer

Newly appointed director of the DuBois Hamer Institute, Theresa White, along with her group of student ambassadors, presented the results of a research project Tuesday morning that touched on four specific initiatives.

“The institute is programmed to empower students and to promote recruitment and retention,” said White, a Pan African studies professor.

White said the institute was launched in 1997 under the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in an effort to address the needs of African American students and to promote academic excellence and community involvement. Its purpose derives from the ideas of W.E.B DuBois and Fanny Lou Hamer.

“DuBois was an intellectual leader and activist who devoted his energy to civic engagement,” White said. “He taught and promoted excellence. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

The institute combines the participation of the Pan African Studies Department and CSUN students and creates a support network with external communities through research projects and programs.

Student ambassador Theresia Anderson said despite the institute’s existence, it had been inactive for some time due to lack of direction.

“Dr. White was interested in bringing it (the institute) back,” said Anderson, a double major in psychology and African American studies. “There is a need for the program on campus and for the greater good.”

Anderson said the students began the research project in September by discussing which topics would be most beneficial to the community.

“We got a lot of our information from scholarly articles, UCLA studies, and personal contacts from outside organizations,” she said.

One of the research topics discussed was financial literacy among students. The student ambassadors discussed the importance of educating college students on the financial dangers caused by credit card debt and student loans.

The students presented graphs to chart their research and provided a list of programs and resources available to students who needed counseling on managing their finances and controlling their debt.

Another issue presented was that of health literacy among African American students. The initiative focused on sex education and practices and eating disorders. The students discussed the trends and statistics pertaining to the sexual practices among college-level students and those pertaining to eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia.

The academic support of African American males was also a topic of research among the student ambassadors, particularly toward the reasoning behind the increasing drop-out rate among this particular group.

Junior Deshonay Dozier said they found that African American males have higher academic success when they have a sense of community, relatable peers and faculty and supportive mentors.

White also touched on the importance of media literacy among college students, emphasizing the training of students to create meaningful content.

“Students need to think on a broader and wider scope,” she said. “They need to think beyond Twitter, Facebook and text messaging to develop a more sophisticated knowledge and understanding.”

White said the presentation of research was a quick sketch of what the institute has in store for the upcoming semester.

“We have lofty goals,” she said. “We want to develop and promote collaboration with organizations within the community to determine our next steps.”

These plans include finding a home and some financial support for the institute, as well as developing a mentorship program for the campus and public community, and eventually providing classes on the various topics of research.

Anderson said the institute is starting small but intends to expand.

“We’d like to provide students with educational programs so they can hit the ground running,” Anderson said.