This article was originally written for an Interpretive Reporting Class at Clark Atlanta University: MMA 350.
College Girls Rock is the newest Campus Chartered Organization at CAU and is the first HBCU chapter of a nationwide non-profit organization, with the mission to uplift minority women on college campuses.
Established in 2011, by two women college students, the non-profit is now led by co-founder Tyler Lanier.
The initial mission was to “ be role models for any young girl uninspired or unenthused about post-secondary education. This movement is now led by young women who share that dream and believe that everyone deserves a chance to have a worthwhile college experience,” according to the College Girls Rock website.
The founding chapter was established at the University of West Georgia (UWG), a prodiementaly white institution (PWI) located in Carroll County, Georgia. The university presently houses a student population in which 52% of students are white, 37% of which are Black (24% are Black women making them a majority on campus) and 6% are Latino, according to the university site, as of 2017.
However, back in 2011, when College Girls Rock (CGR) was founded, 57% of UWG’s student body was caucasion with a mere 3.08% Latino student population.
There is no record of the Black/African-American student body population in the UWG’s “Just the Facts,” archive.
As an African-American UGA student at the time, “If I could throw a percentage out there, it was probably like 13% black. But we created our own mini-HBCU culture, and we were so tight-knit, if one of us was going through something then all of us were,” stated Lanier.
This lack of acknowledgement for black students on campus yielded Taylor Lanier and her co-founder’s reasoning behind founding College Girls Rock.
“It was February of 2011 and I was watching Black Girls Rock, the award
show and my co-founder and I were tweeting each other back and forth about the
show,” saying that as students “they could use an award now, [creating the hashtag] #CollegeGirlsRock,”Lanier said.
A few tweets to one another birthed the creation of College Girls Rock at UWG. “Eventually we came up with the mission of motivating, enlightening, and inspiring young girls to pursue college, and motivating girls already in college to stay there, to be a support system to each other,” Lanier stated.
Within three years of the non-profit being established, in 2014, College Girls Rock expanded to Georgia State University (GSU), a predominantly white institution located in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jasmine Heard is the current chapter president at Georgia State. Heard is a third-year, Speech Communications major at Georgia State. She came into the position after being an active member since her sophomore year.
Following that, Heard witnessed faulty executive board activity, “to the point where the national CGR board was about to shut CGR down at Georgia state,” Heard said.
This motivated her to take up leadership positions with hopes to keep the chapter afloat. After a rough semester, the national board reached out to Heard and interviewed her for the President position.
Their main focus at GSU is to “give people, [particularly women] beneficial resources they need in college. I feel like it’s my duty as a leader to push my black sisters to my full potential. At Georgia State there are so many resources that we have that people don’t know about. I want to give exposure to those resources,” Heard stated.
Georgia State University houses a student population that is “37.9 percent black or African-American, 27.7 percent White, 12 percent Asian and 9.46 percent Hispanic or Latino,” according to the university website.
“Most of the [GSU Chapter] is black women. I feel like as soon as other races see that it is majority black women, that’s when it’s hard to pull other races in.
I would like for us to be more diverse, as it’s in the mission of the national chapter,” Heard stated.
The recruitment aspects of CGR GSU focus on sisterly events that work to create bonds between women, while promoting resources for success post-grad, such as: financial literacy events, resume readiness, taking headshots, body-positivity events, inner beauty events, etc., to lift confidence within members.
CAU’s chapter was founded this year by the current President Jade Watkins. Watkins is a sophomore Business Administration major.
Watkins was inspired to get involved with CGR after witnessing her best friend work as the president of the CGR Kennesaw State university chapter.
“I always wanted to do something on campus. I wanted to start my own org, but there was nothing like CGR [at CAU], so I wanted to bring it here,” Watkins stated.
CGR CAU made history by being the organization's first HBCU chapter. “There is something so unique and special about HBCUs, that I’ve always wanted to have a CGR chapter at one,” Lanier said.
Being that CAU as a HBCU that caters to African-American students, Watkins envisions the chapter will focus on “being something that everyone can connect to, that everyone feels welcome towards, that no matter how you look, what color you are, anything of that sort, you can come to our events, have fun, learn something, and be inspired,” in ways that other CAU campus chartered organization’s do not provide.
Although each individual chapter serves varying student bodies/focuses, they are all held to the same standard of success in the eyes of their found Lanier.
“Five years ago I measured success in a very specific way, we used to have these things call ‘Rock Plans’ and I would require each chapter to have a certain amount of community service hours, certain amount of members, certain type of events, but the past few years I’ve had a real change of heart.
My requirements for any chapter is to have quality events that truly impact the lives of students there,” Lanier stated.