By Jourdan Bazley
Blog Content Contributor
The Pan African Action Committee, or PAAC, is a new group that has emerged at Texas State University. KTSW’s multimedia director Tafari Robertson put his mind to the matter, and worked to bring together a strong group of individuals to serve on the front lines for various cultures on our Texas State Campus.
The Pan African Action Committee advocates for the ongoing “need for black studies programs, and more black faculty and staff,” Robertson said. During spring of 2016, Robertson began PACC after doing research on Texas State’s curriculum and staff and coming to the conclusion that “what multi-cultural students need on this campus is institutional support,” which is a fight that PAAC is taking on head first. With this, Robertson said that the group has a number of projects in the works, and is currently giving extra attention to the soon to emerge Multi-Cultural Lounge that will open on campus in the spring of 2017.
The Texas State Multi-Cultural Lounge will serve as a sort of a “protest” space because, according to Robertson, the University does not support the students’ cultural protests. Robertson commented on this by saying, “we have found a place where we can do it [protest] ourselves and we are doing it ourselves.” This space has been important to Robertson and his committee, due to the simple fact that many Universities around the United States cater to their students by already having Multi-Cultural spaces, while Texas State University has not for so many years.
“My main thing is I am trying to bring diversity to the label of the black male on this campus,” Robertson said about the campus population. “There are a lot of places where it’s easy to feel like there is one way to be, and I feel like I am able to come forward to be like ‘yeah I’m goofy and I hang out with these different people’ but I am still a young black leader and I am still a part of this black org system. I can still do these different leadership roles, but I can also be myself and support other people being themselves.”
“I think that if there is anything that we can work on as Multi-Cultural men on this campus, it is communicating more with each other and being more open and honest with each other,” Robertson said. “Leaving the competition behind.”
The lounge will serve as a study place and a place to be comfortable. PAAC is also collecting books and different items from multiple cultures and inviting people into the space to allow them to feel truly represented.
The process of getting the lounge up and running has been a long one, but Robertson said that the committee received a lot of support from the Honors College, who were very open, helpful and friendly in the process of creating the space. The Lounge will be located in the Honors College, room 502, and will be a space with an interesting design.
“One wall will be totally dedicated to a rotating art gallery in which student and local San Antonio and Austin artists can hang up their pieces,” Robertson said. Another wall will be a direct representation of the cultures that are present on our campus, while the lounge will feature a Black Resource Library. “We have designed the space for students of color to feel safe and represented. Everyone is allowed to use this lounge, but this is a space dedicated to people of color.”
PAAC will look to partner with the Calaboose African American Museum for events, art and any other possibilities of collaboration.
“Not only will we look into the Calaboose Museum, but also the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos and the community around San Marcos,” Robertson said. Along with the goals of the Multi-Cultural Lounge to be a free environment, PAAC also looks to show students of color the nature of the Honors College, expressing the possibilities of joining the Honors College and bringing in students of color to say “as members of the Honors College, how do we make this a more welcoming space for students of color?”
All of members of The Pan African Action Committee, the Honors College, Michelle Sotolongo of the Honors college and supporters are continually working to get the lounge ready for the opening.
“As for the future, I see the lounge becoming an excellent resource as we get more books and information,” Robertson said. “It is definitely a fluid space that will grow, and when people see it, when we have a big opening and celebrate it, we will get funding to bring in more artists, and to make it more interactive. I look forward to establishing this so that incoming Freshmen and other people and organizations take interest in it, and become able to carry that torch even after we graduate and move on.”
“If you look to join PAAC, all you have to do is come and be committed.” PAAC meets every Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. in the Multi-Cultural Lounge in the Honors College building, Lampasas 502.