In a significant move toward greater inclusivity, Drury University’s campus bookstore has expanded its offerings to include a range of ethnic hair care products. This inspiring initiative was spearheaded by three dedicated sophomore students: Raven Haney, Serenity Sosa, and Cris Cuevas, all proud members of Drury’s Black United Independent Collegiate (BUIC). Their shared commitment to promoting inclusivity and accessibility led them to take this proactive step to enhance the student experience at Drury.
The students identified a pressing need for ethnic hair care products within the Springfield community, as there is a scarcity of dedicated stores offering such products. Moreover, even when available, the selection is often limited. Raven Haney noted, “There are not that many stores for black hair care in Springfield, and it’s really difficult to get the products in stores, especially when there’s not that big of a selection.” It was this realization that motivated them to consider how they could make a positive impact on their campus community.
The trio’s solution was both ingenious and altruistic. They decided to bridge the accessibility gap by bringing these much-needed products directly to the students on campus. Serenity Sosa emphasized, “These products provide people of color with the tools they need whenever they lack transportation or even money because the campus prices are so affordable.”
To ensure they met the needs of the community accurately, Raven, Serenity, and Cris collaborated closely with Dr. Rosalyn Thomas, their BUIC advisor, and engaged other BUIC students in the process. They carefully curated a selection of high-demand products, primarily sourcing them from local hair care shops. Their commitment to affordability was pivotal, and they collaborated with Drury President Dr. Tim Cloyd to ensure that the products were priced at levels accessible to all students.
Serenity Sosa aptly summarized the essence of this endeavor, stating, “This is really about accessibility. It’s a big statement from the university that these products are not taxed or priced higher than the cost. Having that commitment from the university is so meaningful.”
Beyond the tangible benefits of this initiative, Raven, Serenity, and Cris have a broader vision. They see it as a step toward creating a more inclusive campus environment, one that not only current students appreciate but also one that prospective students might consider when choosing a university. As Raven aptly noted, “Not only are these initiatives for us, but it’s for future Panthers to feel included. It means a lot more than people realize.”
Cris Cuevas echoed this sentiment, emphasizing, “For us, this is the beginning of things we want to do on campus to help raise awareness. But more than awareness, it benefits people of color on campus and gives them more of the things they need to feel included and welcomed.”
The students of BUIC are not stopping here; their next ambitious project is the renovation of the Findlay Student Center Diversity Lounge during the upcoming spring semester. This undertaking will be a collaborative effort involving Drury’s Student Government Association and other student organizations.
In essence, the initiative undertaken by Raven Haney, Serenity Sosa, and Cris Cuevas transcends the availability of hair care products; it represents a profound commitment to diversity, inclusion, and empowerment within the Drury University community. Their endeavors serve as an inspiring example of how proactive students can bring about positive change that resonates far beyond the confines of their campus.