ince his appointment as director of the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC) in August, Rev. Michael Davidson, S.J., has understood his mandate to serve students of color and their interests on campus.
“What I am passionate about is making sure we retain students of color, care for them, and graduate them,” he said. “Through this office, I want to focus on the middle part, caring for them.”
The BAIC is named for Sister Thea Bowman, the granddaughter of a slave, who was the first black woman to earn a doctorate in theology from Boston College. Founded 43 years ago, the center’s mission statement reflects the mandate of Davidson: “We strive to promote a welcoming environment that fosters holistic development.”
Through the BAIC, he works closely with minority student groups, including the Black Eagles, who demonstrated on the quad with a “die-in” protest on the one-year anniversary of the “Silence is Still Violence” protest.
Davidson said that while that the environment for students of color on campus has been getting better in his opinion, he still believes that the conversation surrounding race must develop further, and that is what the Black Eagles sought to demonstrate.
“I mean, they really want the conversation to continue,” he said. “The conversation is, do you serve them? Do they see staff and faculty that look like them? I do not think it’s any one particular facet, I would say. I’d say it’s really commemorating what happened last year, so that we cannot keep a blind eye to it.”
e expanded on the BAIC’s role in serving: The office’s mandate, he said, is to create a space where all students, particularly students of color, can feel valued. The space allows these students to talk with peers and faculty about their experiences and challenges navigating college life.
“I will go the extra mile for [the students],” Davidson said. “But I’m cognizant also that the University graciously gave us this space to help us create this environment.”
Davidson maintains an open door policy, and indicated that he hopes that other administrators do the same. He said he believes administrators have to work to relate to students in order to train them for post-graduate life—chief on his priority list is training students to love.
“Our mandate is to bring this office back to the students,” Davidson said. “They tell us what’s not obvious, they tell us what they want to see from this office. They’d like us to walk on this journey with them.”
Featured Image Courtesy of University Communications