New Instagram account allows BIPOC students to share experiences on campus

By Samira Kassem Oct 9, 2020
Illinois Wesleyan has a non-white student population of around 30 percent. 
Photo: David O’Neil

The Argus has done a lot of pieces lately on the topic of racial justice and the way in which IWU handles concerns from its non-white students. 

Last month, an Instagram account with the handle @blackatiwu began to gain a following. 

The account, now under the handle @bipocatiwu says in their bio that their mission is “for BIPOC (black, indeginous, people of color) IWU students/alumni, faculty and staff to share their stories anonymously.” 

The person running the page, who chose to remain anonymous, says that a recommendation from a follower motivated the name change to be more inclusive of all people of color on our campus, not just black students. 

A link in the page’s bio allows anyone to submit their story completely anonymously, the stories are then shared to the page. 

The person who runs the page said they got the idea from a friend at Purdue where a similar page is being run. 

“I was intrigued by the way they just posted whatever people submitted. It was raw, real and genuine. 

I thought with all the BLM protests and talk around campus, this would be a great outlet for students, alumni and faculty/staff” they said.

 Since its creation on September 24, the page has already posted more than 50 submissions, telling the stories of the BIPOC members of the IWU community. 

The founder of the page says that overall the response to it has been mostly positive. 

“We’ve gotten many direct messages saying thank you from current students and alumni. 

Alumni are appreciating that we are posting these messages and some were shocked to see the stories being submitted” they said. 

The account was started September 14 and already has over 50 posts of submissions from BIPOC members of the IWU community. 
Photo: @bipocatiwu on Instagram

Although this is the case, the founder did say that they have received at least one submission that was the complete opposite of what the page is trying to accomplish. 

“We see them and ignore them. This is meant to be a space for listening and supporting, not tearing people down.” 

Submissions tackle topics such as the silence of the administration, BIPOC experiences in Greek Life and recruitment, experiences with IWU faculty and staff, on campus jobs and incidents within dorms. 

“They [the submissions] all stand out. Every single submission is a real story or feeling that someone is having on this campus. 

We want people to know that they can voice their story and that they will be supported by, not only us, but others on campus as well” the page’s founder said. 

One of the most common responses to the page has come from white students and allies wondering how they can help. 

“We just want to say, ‘DO SOMETHING.’ Don’t just read the submissions to yourself and say ‘oh that’s tough’ and move on to the next picture in your feed. 

Actually go out and write a letter, ask questions, start a discussion or host an event or protests. 

Don’t just stand around and wait for someone else. 

This is your campus and you should want to make it feel like home to everyone” the page’s founder said. 

“This is your campus and you should want to make it feel like home to everyone,”

In today’s virtual world, the page offers an amazing platform for BIPOC students to share their stories. I hope everyone on this campus takes a look at them and really thinks about what they have been allowing to happen to their fellow Titans on this campus.     

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