Forums provide safe space for discussion of issues

Black Student Union’s goal is to provide outlet, solve problems


Cathedran file photo

Mr. Ken Barlow ’82 said more Zoom meetings will take place in order to assist students during eLearning.

With online discussion forums during the summer and plans for additional activities this fall, the Black Student Union and others are ensuring that the African American community feels safe and valued at school.

Vice President for Community Relations and Diversity Mr. Ken Barlow ‘82 said, “Cathedral specifically reaches out to the Indianapolis community to form relationships with many diverse ethnic organizations in our community.” Barlow said his work entails a focus on a goal that all educators, students and families regardless of differences feel comfortable and safe and have their voices heard.

He, along with members of the Black Student Union, has hosted two forums with multiple participants to act as a safe space to teach about the Black Lives Matter movement that addresses police brutality and social injustice. Barlow said the forums also provide a safe space for discussing issues such as COVID-19, for which African Americans are suffering a higher rate of sickness and death.

“These forums are hosted by my office in conjunction with the Black Student Union at Cathedral High School,” Barlow said during a video interview with the summer school journalism class. Two forums occurred in June, with another scheduled the week of July 6, with a specific date to be announced to students via email. The media has been a place for people to turn to recently, so by having these forums, the participants have another opportunity to learn how to accept everyone and understand others and their struggles.

The first forum included 74 participants. “The demographics were 31 students, 19 of them BSU students (and) the rest were educators from Cathedral High School or (Cathedral) board (of trustees) members,” Barlow said.

We believe at Cathedral that we have a different community that is willing to take on challenges.

— Mr. Ken Barlow '82

“What we have done is open up the safe space because we believe at Cathedral that we have a different community that is willing to take on challenges,” Barlow said. The purpose of the forum is that those who attend can feel safe and learn about current issues to try and solve them. Barlow noted that the school’s diversity allows for such discussions and shows the need for the forums.

“The Black Student Union formed really out of an Embrace Cub to (address) explicit bias,” Barlow said. “I think the Black Student Union is going to be critical (to addressing these issues).” While the Union always has been active, the events of the spring and summer will mean the group can expect to take on an even more important role when students return to school in August, Barlow said.

With all that the media has covered, citizens can feel multiple emotions about how these issues and events have played out. Barlow said, “Actually I turn my TV off sometimes because you can oversaturate your brain with someone else’s perspective. I think on both sides of it, it’s very difficult to listen to the news every day.”

The Black Student Union will continue to have an impact on the school and will want to make sure that everyone, despite their differences, feels safe, secure and valued during their time on the Hill. Barlow said, “Moving forward, the Black Student Union will have a great voice at helping Cathedral to grow together, not grow apart.”