Be the Change

Written by on March 10, 2021

This semester will mark Jhalen Haynes (JR/Moreno Valley, California) first year at Kansas Wesleyan. When arriving, he knew that he wanted to be a voice on campus; someone who would influence change. But not knowing very many people, it felt like a rocky start. After finding connections with people who shared the same mindset as he did, he joined the Multicultural Student Union that would allow him to achieve his goal of making a change. “It was a little off putting for me knowing that a bunch of cultures were all put into one club,” admits Haynes. “But now that I’m inside of it, I realize that this is such a beautiful experience because we’re all able to share our different perspectives and teach one another. Students can use us as an avenue to help make their voices heard.” The drive to make a change wasn’t just something that Haynes felt he had to do when he got on campus. This desire could stem from his grandfather John Haynes, who was a part of the Black Panther Party, one of the most influential militant black power organizations. “Before he passed, he was super excited to say that he influenced change, and would always tell me that it’s in my blood to help influence change,” Haynes said. “Which is what inspired me to come to Kansas Wesleyan instead of going to an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) because there I would be somewhere that more so supports black students, but I also wouldn’t be doing as much to inflict change.”
One of the main goals that the union had this year was bringing awareness to Black History Month. Every Friday night of February, the union held events such as a movie night where they showed Hidden Figures and a fashion show in which they dressed from different decades. “I think we put the hammer on the nail with that one just by us being able to spread awareness and we were able to do it in our own unique way,” Haynes said. “Our activities allowed people to learn at a comfortable level rather than forcing them to learn about Black History.” Though the union has made its presence known on campus, Haynes believes that there is still more to be done. The fight to make a change will not stop once the members graduate, and he wants to bring awareness of the possible future that lies ahead. “We’re not in an era where things will just happen overnight. We have to plant these seeds to grow these trees, and eventually we’ll get a forest,” Haynes said. “When I do have children and they have to fight a similar fight, I’ll be able to teach them how to do it strategically.” If you’re interested in joining, the union holds weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 8:45 PM where free food is also available. To follow some advice if you’re skeptical of joining, Haynes states that “if it’s one thing we can understand, it’s that the perspective of someone else truly matters.”

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