New BSA President Faces Challenge

‘Community’ is a campaign theme

Brian M. Haas

Outgoing BSA President CHARLES M. MOORE ’04.

About 80 members of the Black Students Association (BSA) elected 12 new Board members and approved 21 constitutional amendments in the Lowell Junior Common Room on Saturday.

Olamipe I. Okunseinde ’04 beat out two other candidates for the presidency, basing her platform on the three broad values of “community, tradition and innovation” that she says “will define next year” for the BSA under her leadership.

The BSA members also elected Anne M. Morris ’04 as vice president, Marissa A. Mike ’05 as secretary and Lawrence E. Adjah ’06 as treasurer.

Okunseinde, who is also a Crimson editor, is a psychology concentrator from Eliot House. She has served as the BSA publicity chair for the past two years.

“I’m very excited [about being president]—also about the strength of the board,” Okunseinde says. “And I’m also very excited about the voter turnout and the number of candidates.”

The theme of community was also present throughout the platforms of the other presidential candidates—Angela A. Amos ’05 and Jennifer N. Hawkins ’04.

“My vision for the BSA is that it will fulfill its mission to be a pillar of strength and unity in Harvard’s black community and in the greater communities of Harvard and the world,” Amos writes in her position paper.

Hawkins delineates in her paper her aim as BSA president of “strengthening familial ties in the black Harvard community.”

No Easy Task

While the primary goals of the BSA president—to foster a sense of community and fulfill the agenda which the membership sets—seem clear from the constitution, the president’s job of being the spokesperson for the organization’s approximately 200 members—many with diverse views—is not always easy.

Outgoing BSA President Charles M. Moore ’04 says it is impossible for the president to please everyone in the group “because people are different, they want different things from the BSA.”

But Amos says walking the fine line between different factions’ opinions can prevent the group from effectively voicing the opinion of anyone in the group at times.

“The problem with the BSA is that we are so concerned with misrepresenting someone that we don’t represent anyone,” Amos, the outgoing BSA secretary, said in her election speech.

Amos says the “responsibility of representing every black student everywhere” is “a privilege and a burden” for the BSA.

Hawkins, who has served as publications chair and president of the Freshman Black Table (FBT), says the president has the discretion of deciding which issues to speak out on.

“In terms of political action I guess they can be seen as having an activist role,” Hawkins says. “You pick your battles.”