Tag Archives: African American college students

Police-Student Dialog on Relations to Continue

Talk show hosts, news anchors, politicians, community leaders, and law enforcement officers routinely call for “honest, open dialogue” on police and community relations. There are valid reasons why these conversations don’t often happen or if they do, they tend to end in shouting matches. The subject is emotionally charged, and the exchange can be difficult and uncomfortable.

Building and strengthening relationships requires effort, acknowledging the need for change, and everyone being committed to accept some responsibility. Difficult? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.

The Black Student SUCCESS Project sponsored a workshop on Sept. 23 that afforded Parkland students the opportunity to engage with Parkland police officers.  Student questions were unflinching and hard-hitting.  Honest.  Skeptical.

Chief William Colbrook and Sgt. Matt Kopmann responded with respect and care and were outstanding presenters. Both leaders exhibited a genuine pride in their jobs, carefully described their roles and duties as police officers, and demonstrated a genuine understanding of concerns.

Our students stated they had more questions and wanted more time. Part two will be scheduled at a later date to continue this important conversation. Stay tuned.

[Donna Tanner-Harold is a counselor in Parkland’s Counseling and Advising Center and coordinates Black Student Success Project activities.]

Keys to Persistence: Black Student SUCCESS Project

I founded The Black Student SUCCESS Project in 2008 with a goal of increasing the retention and graduation rates of Black students at Parkland College.  I drew heavily from Dr. Vincent Tinto’s Departure Theory, which states that academic integration and social integration are keys to persistence for college students, particularly students of color.

BSSPThe idea for this project is to provide interesting and relevant activities and programs designed to create opportunities for students to learn, engage, connect, and dare I say it?  Have fun!  We have talked about academic topics: Test Anxiety, Gen Eds, and Career planning. We’ve discussed tough social issues: AIDS and the Black Community, Domestic Violence, and Race Relations.  We also have addressed Emotional Intelligence and Healthy Relationships, and every spring, we enjoy the University of Illinois Black Chorus.

Black Student SUCCESS Project workshops have become the best-attended on campus, and all students all welcome.  Look for our posters and flyers around campus and drop by.

***Our next workshop is this Wednesday, Sept. 23, 1-2 p.m. in Room U140.   Chief Bill Colbrook will share on keeping safe, underage drinking, and how to interact with the police.  It should be a good one.***

Stop by. We’d love to have you.

[Donna Tanner-Harold is a counselor in Parkland’s Counseling and Advising Center and coordinates Black Student Success Project activities.]