Making Connections: ISU hosts 37th Annual Big XII Conference on Black Student Government


courtesy of Kedric Elmore

Big 12 Convention on Black Student Government

Jaden Urbi

Beginning today, about 450 participants from universities as far north as Minnesota and as far south as Texas will check in to the Memorial Union for the 37th Annual Big XII Conference on Black Student Government.

The theme of this year’s conference is career and leadership development.

“As you educate, train and provide experiences for any segment or population, they then will contribute to the whole community. The whole community is going to benefit as we develop more leaders and stronger leaders. They will benefit from the gift of leadership and the strong efforts from the leaders involved,” said Tom Hill, vice president of student affairs.

The Big XII Council on Black Student Government puts on the conference every year. This council is made up of the Black Student Governments from the institutions in the Big XII conference.  Preference is given to students from Big XII schools, but people come from all over the midwest.

Participants have the opportunity to attend a number of social events as well as more than 60 workshop sessions throughout the weekend in the Memorial Union and the Scheman Building.  

The event location rotates through the Big XII to a different school each year. The last time the conference was hosted at ISU was in 2006 and the faculty and students involved are excited to host it again this year. Two co-chairs and a variety of students on a planning team have been working to put this event together since last year’s event at Kansas State University.

“Ever since we got back from the conference at Kansas State it has just been moving forward, moving fast, trying to get everything done and trying to make it the way that we would want it here at Iowa State,” said Sylvester Gaskin, program coordinator of multicultural student affairs.

Tonight there are a variety of fun events as a way for participants to settle in after their travels said Gaskin. The events Thursday are for everyone to relax and get to know each other after traveling.

Dean of Students, Pamela Anthony will give an opening speech at 8:00 a.m. Friday in Benton Auditorium in the Scheman Building.  There will be a collection of workshop sessions, mainly focusing on leadership and career development.

The workshop sessions are hosted by a variety of people, from Iowa State students to staff from career services in each college. In addition to the workshops there is an array of keynote speakers. Keynote speakers this year consist of ISU faculty, members of the Ames multicultural community and popular speakers from outside the Ames area.

The Big XII Conference has the power to make a positive impact on not only the participants, but also the world around them. 

“It’s an opportunity for our students to be in an environment with so many other young African-American leaders, to have that kind of powerful weekend where they’re meeting folks, they’re making networks, they’re making connections. That wouldn’t happen if we didn’t have this conference,” said Gaskin. 

The conference shows what environment Iowa State has to offer to potential graduate students and employers from the midwest Gaskin said.