#WhosWhoatUT helps incoming Black students find friends, community

Michelle Facio, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the July 20 flipbook.

Finding spaces for people of color was important to incoming freshman Jessica Jeremiah when she applied to UT, so when she heard about #WhosWhoAtUT, a Twitter hashtag for Black students to introduce themselves to one another, she was eager to participate.

“There’s so (few) of us, I think it’s really important to get to know each other and begin fostering these spaces for us to navigate being on campus before we’re on campus (and) build relationships with others who look like me and share similar experiences,” Jeremiah said.

Only 5.3% of UT students are Black, according to the latest diversity, equity and inclusion statistics from the University. #WhosWhoAtUT, created by New Black Student Weekend, aims to uplift and welcome Black students to UT, said Zion James, said Zion James, New Black Student Weekend community engagement co-chair.

“The best way to connect with Black UT in general is Twitter,” sociology and African and African Diaspora studies junior James said. “What we do is we have our ‘Who’s Whos’ on Twitter so that’ll give (incoming freshmen) the chance to get on Twitter, get some followers and get to know Black UT.”

James said #WhosWhoAtUT never fails to trend on Twitter and usually happens around mid-June or early July every year. He said the hashtag isn’t just about saying who you are, it’s a way for Black students to support, connect and communicate with one another.

Biology sophomore Sega Ndita said the hashtag allowed her to develop some of her closest friendships when she got to UT during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“(I made) most of my really close friends through the hashtag last year,” Ndita said. “Because everything was online, the first question was always ‘Are you going to be up in Austin anytime?’ and from there, I’d make plans with a bunch of people. After the first two weeks in Austin, my friends and I would go out to eat at least twice a week just to get out of the dorms.”

Ndita said although the tag is only meant to be used by Black students, she and her friends have come across non-Black students participating in the trend.

“A lot of people don’t seem to know that the hashtag is only for the Black students at UT,” Ndita said. “At first, it’s like ‘oh okay, you didn’t know,’ but then a lot of people tried to reach out and spread the word and it just seems like a lot of people just ignored it.”

For James, one of the best parts of the hashtag is getting the opportunity to see students grow and change throughout their college career. James said he hopes #WhosWhoatUT will continue to amplify and connect Black students for years to come.

“Being a small minority can be overwhelming,” James said. “But knowing the people that go to your school through this trend is something that brings you comfort, relief and reassurance that you deserve to be here.”