By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer
A performance submission promoting Black Lives Matter by the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity was denied approval for this year’s Family Weekend After Dark show.
The Phi Beta Sigmas submitted their After Dark step routine video geared toward the Black Lives Matter movement for approval to Student Activities the week before the all-university variety show, which was held on Sept. 25.
Upon reviewing the submission the Tuesday before the event, Student Activities employees told the group their performance was deemed inappropriate for the intended audience of After Dark.
Aurora, Colo., junior Sam Onilenla is the Phi Beta Sigma parliamentarian. He said Student Activities told them they would like to show the video in a panel discussion to talk about racial justice instead. Onilenla said Student Activities told them they could re-record their submission outside the context of BLM for After Dark.
Onilenla said he didn’t think the video was inappropriate for any kind of audience.
“I think that minority kids have to be raised up knowing that they have to act a certain way with the police or adjust a certain way, because they can’t be suspicious. Kids across the nation are in protest, marching in the streets, because this is actually a thing. It’s all over Instagram, Facebook, TikTok. Ask any person there, I don’t think it would have been inappropriate for the show,” Onilenla said.
“This Matters Racial Justice and Healing” panel discussion was hosted on the virtual student programs webpage Oct. 1. The original uncensored video submission was shown in the beginning of the panel. Afterward, Black students and faculty answered questions about their experience at Baylor and their opinion on the school’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement this summer and racial justice on campus.
Their redone performance for After Dark was shown Sept. 25 as scheduled. The act was not denied and Baylor was always committed to its viewing by a wide audience, Vice President for Marketing and Communications and Chief Marketing Officer Jason Cook said.
“When the request was made to reshoot the act, Student Life committed to determine an equally high-profile platform to view the original performance and offer additional conversation to elevate the voices of our students. This Matters event was a manifestation of that commitment,” Cook said.
Onilenla said though they re-recorded the show, he would’ve preferred to still have their original video be shown.
“I feel like After Dark would’ve been a better stage for what we were looking for because so many people — Baylor’s whole audience was going to watch this in some type of way, but with a panel that talks about racial justice,” Onilenla said. “People don’t want to have that conversation, but if you put that in front of them at that show they have no reason to not be confronted by it. They have to have those talks, I feel like people pick and choose when they want to have those talks.”
Following the panel, on Oct. 2, Baylor Sigmas twitter said in a tweet, “For After Dark, we elected to use our platform to bring awareness to the issues of racial inequality facing people of color.
@Baylor deemed our video as “inappropriate for the intended audience.”
The tweet included a statement from the organization about the incident with Student Activities.
The Phi Beta Sigmas said in the statement that declaring their submission inappropriate for After Dark’s audience “unintentionally said the minorities of this campus are not represented in the intended audience they were going for, which makes us feel as if Baylor will cater to the majority’s happiness and approval over the minority.”
Vice President of Student Life Dr. Kevin Jackson said in a statement that the show attracts a wide audience of students, parents, alumni and young children.
“After reviewing the chapter’s submission for After Dark, we felt that it should be elevated as a stand-alone performance and not simply embedded as one of several acts in a variety show,” Jackson said.
“Student Life wanted to provide more time to Phi Beta Sigma than what would have been allowed as part of After Dark,” Cook said.
As of Monday morning, Cook said on the Student Life Virtual Platform After Dark had a total of 309 viewers, while the This Matters panel had a total of 111 viewers. However, on Facebook, This Matters had 812 viewers, and reached 1,600 people. After Dark can’t be published on Facebook for copyright and trademark regulations.