The NSU Student Government Association (SGA) recently passed a resolution requesting that an outdoor stage on the NSU campus be named in honor of the first seven African-American students to attend Northwestern State. The matter of naming the stage is subject to the approval of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System. The Board will be asked to consider the proposal Thursday, Feb. 25. Once it is approved, the SGA will host a naming ceremony.
“We wanted to name the stage after these students to honor their courage and indominable spirit as pioneers at Northwestern State,” said SGA President Nick Hopkins. The seven Black students to first be integrated at Northwestern State in 1965 were Steve Jackson, June Cofield, Doris Ann Roque-Robinson, Hyams J. Baptiste, James Johnson, Johnnyne Britton-Paige and Pearl Jones-Burton. True to the potential new name for the platform, seven oak trees will be planted around the stage.
“When we were trying to decide on a name for the stage, we fell upon this idea and knew that this was a great way to honor these seven students that are integral to the story of Northwestern State and celebrate the path they set forth that helped our university become the richly diverse institution it is today. The SGA wanted to make sure that the full story of NSU was told and ensure that historical campus figures from underrepresented groups received the recognition that they deserved. This started with our SGA Portrait Project and has been evolving since,” said Hopkins. “These students were trailblazers and are the ones that planted the seed of equality and inclusion that has allowed our University to grow and become the diverse institution that we are today, so we felt that naming it the ‘Seven Oaks’ was a great testament to these students and the seeds they planted,” said Hopkins.
“As a new employee here at Northwestern State University of Louisiana, I was thrilled to back the idea,” said Vice President of Inclusion of Diversity Michael Snowden. “What the renaming of the stage signifies to me… is a commitment from the institution to recognize the courageousness of those students. Recognizing those students as ‘way makers’ and trailblazers is what NSU is about- celebrating the triumphs of inclusion and diversity.”
Stage information courtesy of the NSU News Bureau: Northwestern State University’s performance venue debuted during DemonFest 2019, the annual spring music and art festival presented by KNWD. The stage at Iberville Green, former site of Sabine Hall, was developed with input and support from the University Programming Council (formerly called the Student Activities Board), KNWD, the Student Government Association, Alumni and Development and the Student Union Life Concert Committee.
Planning began in 2014 when NSU was awarded $10,000 from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation following a Lunchtime Likes competition. Students voted to use the award as seed money to develop an outdoor venue for concerts and other performances and chose the location at Iberville Green, a wide plateau next to Iberville Dining Hall conveniently close to university residence halls.