As a freshman, Jessica Dixon heard that being head of the Black Student League was one of the worst jobs on campus because it required too much time. But as a College junior, she is now the group's president. As Dixon glances through her datebook and files about the BSL, she admits that sometimes there are not enough hours in the day to complete all her work. "It's been fun, but I've had to organize my life a lot more because of it," Dixon said this week. "It's just frustrating. You have so many things to do and not enough time to do it in." But despite the time commitment, Dixon said that she feels the job is an important one, adding that she brings strong convictions to the post. She has always had strong convictions, she said, even as a freshman. Dixon said the first time she spoke out was during a University Council meeting about the diversity education program. She recalls standing up at the meeting and challenging a professor who claimed the program would brainwash students. Dixon said once she spoke out, she realized that she has always "wanted to be vocal." The College junior's friends and BSL colleagues said she's up to the task of heading one of the University's largest student organizations. Nicole Bell, treasurer of the BSL, said Dixon has been involved in the black community since her first year at the University. Bell said that she believes that Dixon's experience and dedication will serve her well. "She's hardworking and dedicated to helping black people," Bell said this week. "Each president has their own style," she added. "She will do the best job possible." Anthia Christian, treasurer of the BSL, said Dixon is everyone's friend and always concerned about members of the black community. "She's in control all the time even though she may look calm," Christian said. "Teaching our culture, reaching our community" is the theme of the BSL agenda for this year, and in the remaining eleven months of her tenure, Dixon plans on supervising several programs help blacks in the University community and in West Philadelphia. "We are trying to work to create better support on our end as far as students helping students," Dixon said. She said attrition of black students is one of her greatest concerns. The BSL has long been concerned about attracting more black students to the University and then keeping them here. Black student leaders have long maintained that attrition rates for black students are much higher than for the student body as a whole. Dixon said she wants both the BSL and the administration to provide more support for black students. She said she hopes to open up the lines of communication between black students and administrators in a biannual meeting with the trustees. "We want to make them aware of our concerns and how they can help," Dixon said. In addition to working with the administration, Dixon said she hopes to increase activity among the black community. She said she plans on having more programs to encourage interaction between the black community, the hispanic community and the white community. "I want to continue what the past board has done culturally and socially as far as making the University community aware of the black culture," Dixon said. The BSL plans to help those in the surrounding community as well under Dixon's direction. Positive Images, a tutoring and mentoring group for students in the West Philadelphia area, has been incorporated by the BSL. Project U.P.L.I.F.T., a program for pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers, is in the planning stage. The BSL also plans to work in soup kitchens and with child daycare centers. The organization plans to sponsor many fund raising events throughout the year including another fashion-talent show and a T-shirt sale. In addition, Dixon said she would like to see the University have Martin Luther King Day free of classes so students could attend forums and discussions about him. Dixon has been representing the black community since she entered the University in 1988. As a freshman she was an Undergraduate Assembly representative. As a sophomore, she worked with freshmen as their BSL representative. During the fall semester she served as the United Minorities Council treasurer. She is also the Houston Hall Board President. Dixon decided to dedicate herself to the BSL because she believed that it was the organization through which she could make the most change.Comments powered by Disqus
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