Last month, San Diego State’s Cross Cultural Center hosted its third annual Harambee Weekend. The event, named after the Swahili word meaning “all pull together,” hosts recently admitted African American students and their families. Students are given the opportunity to interact with current SDSU students and spend the night in a residence hall before Explore SDSU activities begin the next day. Parents are able to speak with current students, faculty and administrators about programs SDSU offers to make their children’s transition into college as smooth as possible. The event was created in response to backlash from national coverage of the Compton Cookout hosted by fraternity members from University of California San Diego in February of 2010. The off-campus cookout was hosted to mock black history month and encouraged guests to wear “ghetto attire.”
SDSU student Nasnet Andemariam served as one of the facilitators of Harambee Weekend. “Students were going to feel like they couldn’t come to any school in San Diego because all the schools were racist,” said Andemariam. “(Harambee Weekend) was a part of an initiative to show prospective African American students that SDSU isn’t like that.”
Once African American high school students receive acceptance letters from SDSU, they also receive an invitation to attend Harambee Weekend. This year’s event hosted 50 students and their families. While parents spoke with faculty and administrators, student volunteers provided entertainment for the high school students. Performances included spoken word poets, singers and a dance routine from SDSU’s K.O. Hip-Hop Dance Team. After the performances, the overnight portion of the event began in Chapultepec. SDSU student volunteers held an open discussion with the high school students answering questions and concerns about what life is like at SDSU. Volunteers ended the night with games, music and one-on-one interaction with students.