The independent student newspaper at Goucher College

Black Gophers: What is it and Why Do We Care? 


By: Ambrea Gaither 26′ (Treasurer of Black Gophers) 

Photos by: Jaylin Briston 27′ (Member of Black Gophers) 

*This article is a student submission from COM 142 News and Reporting with Dr. David Zurawik*

Being a student athlete comes with its own challenges and routines that many other students don’t understand. To add to those challenges, being a black student athlete at a predominately white institution comes with many more. 

Black Gophers is a Goucher College affiliated club that provides black student athletes a safe space to hangout and talk about racial situations without judgment or ignorance. Many Black Gopher meetings involve discussion of racist incidents on campus and seeking ways to rise above the racism and be our confident, authentic selves. In addition to providing this space for open discussion, the club also organizes group activities such as study sessions and going to see Bob Marley: One Love in february, they are currently planning to go roller skating this semester.

Black Gophers also has many donation opportunities for underprivileged kids/families in Baltimore, MD. For multiple years the club has organized Christmas Toy drives for “Believe in Tomorrow Baltimore” (A Children’s house at Johns Hopkins for chronically ill children). A canned food drive was also organized for the needy. 

In February of this year Black Gophers hosted Black History Month trivia and carnival games to connect with their community during Black History Month as well as educate other Goucher students and allowed them to enter in a raffle for prizes. 

Tanise Thornton-Fillyaw (Left) is constantly breaking records for Track and Field here at Goucher. Tanise has been an involved member of Black Gophers for two years now and couldn’t imagine college without it. 

When asked if she would be the student athlete she is today without Black Gophers she answered 

“No, even before this semester, the people who were a part of Black Gophers definitely helped me transition to Goucher so much. Even though some have graduated, I don’t know if I would have been able to find balance without them.” 

Black Gophers help all members find community and truly become a second family. 

Tanise also talks about being a black woman on campus: 

“Some days are harder than others. Every so often something will happen like ‘come on why did that have to happen?’ No matter what happens on our campus I still have to keep going in life. I can’t just pause. That’s the main thing that makes it hard. [In regards to hate crimes on campus] A lot of people don’t realize that we all have to keep going . It’s not just a little moment that happened, it’s a background in our experiences here.” 

Ajani (AJ) Landy is a freshman male track athlete from Wilmington, Delaware. AJ joined Black Gophers this year and has been a part of every meeting and event that has been hosted. 

When asked about the impact this club has had on him, AJ answered:

“Black Gophers has helped me get out of my comfort zone and talk to more people.” 

Since AJ is a freshman, Black Gophers allowed him to meet more people apart from his team. Black Gophers allows teams to intermingle and learn about other experiences on campus.

AJ expressed how Black Gophers has helped his transition into college: 

“It has helped a lot. The upperclassmen have definitely helped me get acquainted with the campus and other people. Black Gophers is very important to me, I feel like every black student needs a place to feel comfortable.” 

When entering college, lots of students assume it’ll be easier to meet others, but it can be just as hard as other levels of school. Being a part of a club like Black Gophers helps with that transition and connecting with other Gophers. 

Both Tanise and AJ wish more people would join Black Gophers and hope to expand the family. Black Gophers has impacted many black athletes at Goucher and is something they look forward to weekly. Like AJ said, all black students need to have a place to feel comfortable, loved, and supported on campus.

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