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African American Experience brings students to La Salle

In addition to organizing and sponsoring various multicultural events on campus, the African American Student League has been helping enrollment at La Salle.

“[AASL] is an organization that really strives to promote multicultural awareness through various programs and initiatives to make everyone more aware of different African American issues and multicultural issues,” junior communication major Alicia Dodd said.

This is the third year AASL is running the African American Experience—a program that brings undecided seniors that have been accepted at La Salle to experience Lasallian life.

“We decided to do this event because we are always looking for ways in which to better serve our Lasallian community,” Dodd said. “The creation of this program was an excellent way in which to do so.

Prospective students stay on campus from Thursday night until Saturday morning and are paired with hosts ranging from freshmen to seniors.

“By showing them an overnight experience here at La Salle,” Dodd, who is currently vice president and president-elect of the organization, said, “they get a better understanding about how great our school really is and about the culture of the school, two things that they may not be able to truly grasp in one day.”

According to Dodd, the event usually occurs during Greek Week.

“Thursday night we take them to Greek God and Goddess [Competition],” she said. “Friday they go to class so they can experience a collegiate class at La Salle.”

Class is followed by lunch and then guests are given the opportunity to meet with representatives from Financial Aid and the Multicultural and International Center.

“Friday night we plan an activity,” Dodd said. “In previous years we’ve taken them to South Street and had a game night. This year, we’re taking them to South Street again.”

She explained the importance of such activities is to help the guests bond, so that if they ultimately decide to attend La Salle the following fall, they will recognize a few friendly faces.

Saturday morning is a closing breakfast at Treetops Café, which, according to Dodd, gives guests the chance to experience Treetops on the weekends.

Admissions and Student Affairs have helped AASL with the logistics of the program, such as getting names, but “we came up with the program on our own,” Dodd said.

According to Dodd, 15 of the 20 students who attended the African-American Experience last year attended La Salle as freshmen in the fall, giving the organization a 75 percent success rate. Freshmen Jerri-Ann Archer and Justin Walters were two of those 15 students.

“It was the reason I chose La Salle,” Archer, a political science and economics major, said. For Archer, the program gave her the opportunity “to see that La Salle was striving to be so diverse and that it cares so much about the African American students.

“A lot of schools I [considered] were predominantly white,” Archer said. “But there was a comfort at La Salle. It made me feel welcome.”

At the time of Archer’s visit with the African-American Experience, she considered schools such as Eastern, Temple and American universities.

“I had a great time at the AASL African American Experience,” Walters, a communication major, said. “My host was Taj Duffie, the director of promotions for AASL, and he was an important factor for me coming to La Salle.”

According to Walters, Duffie was “real down to earth” and helpful in answering questions regarding college life.

“He told me the truth of what he thought of La Salle, especially from first-hand experience.”

This year, AASL is expecting 14 guests to attend the experience.

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