USF students, faculty and staff are celebrating the opening of the Institute of Black Life & Student Success Student Lounge, a dedicated space on the third floor of the Marshall Student Center on the Tampa campus that was announced in March. The space is the result of a request and input by student members of the Black Student Union (BSU) as to the value of an affinity space to support the Black community at USF, especially for healing following the racial incidents of recent years.
“On behalf of the BSU at USF, we are pleased that the university heard us, took action and provided students of African descent not only with a physical space, but a community-building space that will support all efforts to strengthen students’ sense of belonging,” said BSU president Kameryn Philpot.
The university’s Institute on Black Life (IBL) and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, a department of Student Success, collaborated with numerous partners to realize the students’ request. The new lounge is designed to be an inviting social and academic center where students, faculty and staff from all cultural groups can learn more about contemporary Black experiences and scholarship. It will host workshops, talks and experiential learning activities to facilitate connections between students and campus stakeholders, and provide opportunities for the development of social, intercultural, personal and professional skills to contribute to students’ academic and career goals.
"The grand opening of the lounge is a proud milestone for the university because it reflects an intentional collaboration to meet the needs and expectations of the students served at USF,” said Fenda Akiwumi, director of the IBL. “Most importantly, this grand opening is reflective of the power of students' voices and their desire to be affirmed in their identity, their experience at USF and their desire to feel connected and valued by the university community.”
Akiwumi personally assisted with decorating the space, loaning artwork and sewing toss pillows with Kente fabric to provide a more welcoming environment. The space includes comfortable seating; cultural artifacts; a library of books highlighting Black history, Black authors and African diaspora communities; cultural artwork donated by USF Department of Education Professor Gary Lemons; and a rotating art exhibit. Oil paintings featured at the grand opening were created by master of fine arts student Marlon Tobias Wilson.
This lounge, open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., is the latest initiative demonstrating the university's commitment to inclusive excellence in serving the diversity of students, faculty and staff. Upcoming planned events in the space include:
- Black Student Leaders Open Forum with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.
- Black/African/Caribbean Multicultural Community Study Night, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.
For more information or to inquire about programming in the lounge, contact the USF Office of Multicultural Affairs at 813-974-5111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.