Servant leadership is undergraduate Artrice Shepherd's modus operandi.
As president at the Black Student Union for the 2020-2021 academic year, Shepherd is paasionate about championing change, specifically prejudices faced by the Black community. Her work, which includes mental health education advocacy in communities of color and within populations of young girls, is guided by skills she has gained from her undergraduate studies in public relations, advertising and applied communications.
During her term as president, Shepherd intends to partner with pertinent departments at the university to create and institute tangible solutions that address areas that can improve the lives of Black members of the university community. Her social justice efforts have gained her recognition on the 2020 Top 40 Under 40 list by Legacy Miami Magazine.
FIU News recently spoke to Shepherd to learn more about what it's like to advocate for social justice virtually.1. What are BSU members talking about, concerned with or focusing on in Fall 2020?
BSU always strives to uphold our mission to educate, advocate and celebrate on behalf of the African diaspora in the FIU community. With everything going on in the world, we are focused on making changes to remove implicit bias, support other marginalized groups and create a safer FIU for the Black community.
2. How has advocating for social justice been affected by the pandemic?
The Black community knows that [when] advocating for change, there will be barriers. However, the pandemic is new for everyone. Advocating has always been accessible in more ways than protesting. Although our members are active in physical protests, there are online forums to organize, strategize and execute change behind the scenes as well.
Our social justice efforts won’t and can’t stop until we have a change that makes a difference.
3. On an organizational note, what challenges have you encountered leading BSU remotely?
If you would’ve told me I was going into a presidency remotely, I probably would’ve said no. For the first few weeks I couldn’t see past not having programming in person.
In BSU, we are a family and when you can’t see your family in person it makes situations that much more difficult. We faced scheduling conflicts like most. However, our biggest obstacle has been trying to create virtual programming that mirrors the in-person experience our members are used to. The entire executive board must redefine “normal,” to create more interactive and memorable experiences [for our members].
4. Are there any initiatives or new projects the university community can look forward to seeing from BSU soon?
In the summer, we launched “The People’s Platform” to have the difficult conversations about the changes needed for FIU to continue to be a thriving academic community. We are also working with the university's Equity Action Initiative, Student Government Association, and other departments to support initiatives that lead to important changes that benefit the Black community.
5. What is important for the university community to know about BSU?
It’s important for FIU to understand that BSU knows we have a long way to go in the fight for change. BSU wants a new era for it’s current and incoming students, faculty, staff and administrators. Many of the changes that must happen require BSU to be in the conversations that we currently aren’t [in].
Students are welcome to join BSU through Panther Connect and follow the organization on social media, @bsufiu. For information, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.