UT-Austin student orgs work to diversify campus, recruit Black students

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Photo Credit: Alex Donavan | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: This article originally contained a series of direct quotes that the author paraphrased, and it has been corrected to include the direct, unparaphrased quotes from the transcription of the interviews. The Texan deeply regrets this breach of our standards. Read the statement from the fall 2020 managing editor here.

With Black students making up 4.9% of the population, some Black campus organizations are pushing to diversify the Forty Acres by using innovative recruitment methods.

The Fearless Leadership Institute, the Black Honors Student Association, and the Onyx Honor Society are some of the various organizations working to recruit and create safe spaces for Black students.

“Part of our recruiting is making sure they know that they have a space where they can become friends,” said Cydni Cox, program coordinator of the Fearless Leadership Institute

Cox said the institute focuses on the advancement of Black and brown women through academic support, professional skill development and personal growth. Instead of recruiting current UT students to join the organization, the institute is also focused on encouraging more Black and brown women to attend UT. 

“Because of the pandemic, we have the space to bring outside sources because of Zoom,” Cox said.

In the past, the institute has led conferences inviting Black and brown high schoolers from across Texas to learn about UT. Now, the institute is utilizing social media to gain the attention of high school students.

The Black Honors Student Association is working to increase the Black student population on campus and create safe spaces for Black honors students.  

Hanna Tinsio, social media chair for the association, has helped attract the attention of Black UT students through virtual events, online meetings and social media outreach. She also works with the diversity and inclusion coordinators in the UT honors programs to encourage greater diversity both in their programs and for incoming freshmen.

“We're working with a mentorship thing, and we're trying to set it up,” advertising sophomore Tinsio said.

The Onyx Honor Society, the first Black UT honor society, strives to promote the advancement and inclusivity of the Black UT community, said Linda Hamilton, internal vice president of the society. 

Journalism junior Hamilton said the society aims to create a more equitable experience for Black students on campus through different initiatives. To recruit Black students, the society hosts a summer book club and helps high school seniors with FAFSA and letters of recommendation.

As part of the efforts to encourage Black students to come to campus and succeed, the society hosted the Black Caucus, a social event in September for Black students to talk about their experiences. The society also fundraised for the Black Student Fund, an emergency fund for Black UT students.

“That's why we're here,” Cox said. “We're here to serve Black women and brown women.”