Friday, October 22, 2021
HomeNewsCampus NewsStudent Social Media Platform ‘@uciblack_’ Aims to Give Black UCI Students a...

Student Social Media Platform ‘@uciblack_’ Aims to Give Black UCI Students a Voice

- advertisement -

Prospective UCI students Kendal Simpson and Rashaad Hampton created the Instagram page, @uciblack_. to give Black UCI students an opportunity to express themselves and connect.

According to Simpson and Hampton, the mission of the page is to connect Black UCI students, especially incoming freshmen, and create a sense of community among UCI’s Black community. They encourage incoming students to send in a picture and a short bio to introduce themselves to other Black students at UCI. The page is also known as “Black Voices Will Be Heard,” a title that comes from Simpson and Hampton’s idea that each person posted on its page is uniquely themselves and has a unique voice that deserves recognition and attention. 

Incoming biological student Simpson said she had a desire to meet students like her before moving from Missouri by interacting with social media pages linked to UCI. 

“I had asked to be featured on the [@ucirvine.2025] page, but I noticed that there weren’t a lot of others who looked like me,” Simpson said. 

According to fellow Missourian and incoming business administration student, Hampton, who came from a predominantly white intuition (PWI), noticed the same thing. He wanted to choose a college that had a community of Black students.

The duo had been friends for years before finding out they would be attending UCI in the fall of 2020, and upon arrival at UC Irvine, they came up with the Instagram page, @uciblack_, also known as “Black Voices Will Be Heard.”

“We want it to be clear that we are providing a space that welcomes any and everything Black and will work to make sure [that] the Black population at UCI feels unified, seen and heard,” Hampton said.

In 2019, UCI’s Black student population was reported to be 2.12%; Orange County, where UCI is located, had a Black population of 2.1% in 2019. Since then, UCI has vowed to work on addressing the low percentage of Black representation on campus with the creation of the Black Thriving Initiative, which strives to expand research and teaching on the unique Black experience. 

According to Hampton, his history of attending PWIs was met with challenges, including meeting fellow Black students and forming a connection with them. 

“Black voices in predominantly white spaces tend to be overshadowed and out-powered by dismissive noise,” Hampton said.  

Another aim of @uciblack_ is to connect Black students to campus resources catered for them. The page offers advice and tips for new students on classes, mental health, other student-run pages or campus organizations and individual programs catered towards the different majors students choose. It also includes other UCI Black-run pages for their followers to check out and a group chat for students to get to know each other. 

Since the creation of the page, @uciblack_  has seen a steady growth, and the creators noted the page’s effectiveness due to the amount of students who have reached out to Simpson and Hampton to express how @uciblack_ has helped them.

“We’d have people DM us saying how they loved seeing a page like this exist and how they were also nervous about there not being a lot of fellow Black students. This reassured us that the page’s importance definitely [lay] in allowing the incoming Black Anteaters to meet and connect with people like them who they can depend on and relate to,” Hampton said. 

According to Hampton and Simpson, the most rewarding part of running this student-oriented page is showing students that they aren’t alone in their nervousness in attending a school where they are underrepresented. Simpson said she believes the posts on the page have the potential to positively affect the lives of incoming Black students since it fosters unity among the Black student population. 

“I believe that my page will bring more awareness to UCI’s Black population because we will post certain posts that will individually affect [someone’s] life, something that makes the UCI Black population feel at home,” Simpson said. 

Simpson said she hopes that eventually the page will become “a campaign and something bigger than what it is. A whole organization [where] the Black community of UCI can come together.” 

Once on campus, @uciblack_’s goal is to move beyond introductory posts and resource pages into Black Anteater life. This means branching out into news and opportunities, such as internships and networking for new Black students, alongside discussing with upperclassmen the unique challenges a Black student entering UCI could face. 

“I think this [page] is important. It draws more people to UCI knowing that there’s others who are curious about themselves and all the excitement behind college. I believe that we are all a big family waiting to get out there into the world and make a name for ourselves. The future friendships are what made me want to create this page to know that all of these people may be one of my roommates or best friends,” Simpson said. 

Yasmin Miranda is the Social Media Editor for the New University. She can be reached at publicrelations@newuniversity.org.