I sat down yesterday to talk to the Edgar Beckham Helping Hand Awards committee to talk about what the awards are about, why these awards began, and a little more about who Dean Edgar Beckham was. The interview as follows is with Christian Hosam ’15, Nicole Okai ’14, and Evelyn Kim ’16. Also on the committee is Taylor Dauphin ’15.
For those who don’t know, what are the Edgar Beckham Helping Hand Awards?
Christian Hosam ’15: The Edgar Beckham Awards are awards that are designed for students, faculty, and staff who are doing dynamic social justice work on campus. It was started last year by Phabinly Gabriel ’13 and Luciana Pennant ’13, and it was really a fantastic show because I think what was going on was that it was a response to a lot of the negative things that were on campus at the time—in respect to racial profiling, academic discontent, and people feeling like they weren’t really affirmed in some ways. So the Edgar Beckham Awards are really a space for some positive affirmation.
How do you think these awards have contributed to Wesleyan’s campus—specifically towards students?
Evelyn Kim ’16: Well I know from when I first went I was a freshman, I think that as social justice is apart of every student of color’s life, whether or not you’re actively involved in it. And [the awards] kind of gave you something to strive for. Because before it wasn’t like these people who were being recognized—they weren’t striving for it because that wasn’t a thing that existed until then. But it kind of gave you something to strive for and something to look forward to.
CH: I mean I think that for the entire campus, a day towards the end of the year that really allows us to kind of come together and celebrate one another and honor one another is a really important thing to do. I think that one thing about this campus—the culture of this campus—is that it is so fast paced, that really having an opportunity to really kind of come together is really important.