As Southern University continues to amass students from all across the nation and the globe, these students have sought to create spaces dedicated to the diversity of the growing institution.
The West Coast Connection is one of the pioneer organizations serving this purpose, being led by Sophomore Mass Communications major Bailie Boyd of Antioch, California. Boyd serves as president for the organization, with the position being previously fulfilled by Skyler Franklin of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Franklin’s role as president ushered in a revival of the organization, which had previously been formed in the 1990’s. For her, the mission of the organization benefits both the students and Southern.
“I know that the organization is in good hands, and I ultimately hope that the organization grows so that it can give back to Southern and the Scotlandville community in general by bringing more students from the West Coast to experience Southern. We don’t have HBCUs on the West Coast, so I want the students to get to see the unique experience of Louisiana and the South in general,” said Franklin.
Jaylyn Harrison, a freshmen from the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, California sees the organization as necessary for new students. “As a freshman, organizations like the West Coast Connection makes adjusting to college at Southern a little easier for me, knowing that I have colleagues who have already made the adjustment from the West Cost to down South.”
Quiyanna Wilson, a sophomore criminal justice major from Las Vegas, Nevada, holds this same perspective, “Our school has always been a flagship of diversity and union of cultures among the Black community. As our student population grows and diversifies, it’s essential that the face of Southern reflects that. Especially with students from the West Coast, we’ve came from thousands of miles away to attend this school. Organizations like the West Coast Connection help us share our experiences and culture with Southern, and the community of Baton Rouge in general. I feel it serves as a place for students from the west coast to discuss issues, ideas, and potential activities for the students at southern.”
Chelise Scott, a sophomore marketing major from Los Angeles, California, views her position as Vice Presents in the West Coast Connection as relevant to the culture of Southern. When asked what specifically makes her feel this way, she points to perspective.
“I think it’s special because we come from a completely different side of the country and have completely different outlooks on life from most of the students here. At a school of students primarily from Louisiana, the WCC is a place for students to feel at home even though they’re 2 thousand miles away”
Although the organization serves the purpose of facilitating a space for students coming from the West Coast, members have expressed that the organization goes beyond that. More so than having a safe space for only themselves, Scott views the organization as a way for students from everywhere to up on western culture.
“I would like them to understand that it’s not made to exclude people who aren’t from there,” Scott elaborates, “it was created to bring those students together that have been a minority for so long...We talk about things that are considered common knowledge in our communities. We do welcome people who are open to learn about our culture.”