“A barbeque specifically is a breaking of the bread,” said Shawn Goddard. “This is something low-income communities do to begin networking, and to have a sense of pride and camaraderie. That’s what we’re trying to do at Lane.”
Behind him, dozens of Lane students lined up for free servings of pork, potato salad and cornbread. The event was BSU’s first fall barbeque, hosted on-campus Thursday, Oct. 15 to raise interest in the program.
Shawn Goddard was raised in the urban environments of the East Coast. Last spring, he started at Lane, and in the second week of the term was introduced to Lane’s Black Student Union. Now, Goddard is BSU’s Vice President of External Affairs, and his experiences back home have been key in creating the group’s most successful outreach event in years.
Generous servings of BBQ were provided to anyone who stopped in. Walking by, some students found the idea of a free lunch hard to believe. Goddard frequently assured passersby that the offer was in fact as good as it seemed. “It’s the best price of all, bro,” he beamed, “totally free.” The event was funded by the union’s budget.
The timing of the event, Goddard explains, was carefully chosen. “It’s fall term, the first term, and people feel awkward or alone, which makes it a good time to try and build community. The African diaspora has persevered because of efforts like this.”
It was more than a personal connection, however, that led to the barbeque’s creation. This year, BSU President Gino Brown engaged in extensive polling of the Lane community in an effort to determine the most effective types of outreach. The result was a targeted, response-driven event.
“This is the largest turnout we’ve had in the past few terms, even including events that were much, much bigger,” Goddard concluded. “So we’re definitely heading in the right direction.”