New student coalition connects underrepresented students to the community around them

Student members of the School of Architecture and Planning's newly formed African American Students of Architecture and Planning (AASAP) organization.

Students participate in a meeting of the newly formed African American Students of Architecture and Planning (AASAP) student coalition. Photo by Melanie Morales

Published February 24, 2020

A network of African American students and students of African descent in the School of Architecture and Planning are facilitating engagement of underrepresented students with minority communities in the City of Buffalo. 

The African American Students of Architecture and Planning was formed last fall through the efforts of a student-led coalition and with advisement from faculty including Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah, assistant professor of urban planning; and Charles Davis II, assistant professor of architecture.

According the the group's mission statement, AASAP recognizes the need for an alliance of underrepresented groups within the architecture and urban planning programs given continued lack of diversity in the professions and opportunities for engagement with Buffalo's diverse communities.

"This club aims to change that by creating a network of community and government figures who want to give hands-on experience for the field to establish a stronger connection between the School of Architecture and Planning and the local community," the mission statement reads.

"Using a network of department faculty, community leaders and past graduates, we aim to use Buffalo as our studio, reimagining areas and inviting local students to work with us on our projects."

Student officers of the African American Students of Architecture and Planning.

Student officers of the African American Students of Architecture and Planning

Samina Raja, professor of urban planning and associate dean for research and inclusive excellence, said "AASAP signals the importance of student self-organizing, and is representative of the School of Architecture and Planning's commitment to cultivating inclusion and celebrating diversity."

Through weekly meetings AASAP - an official UB student organization - engages students in conversations with topics that are of interest and issues related to current events. The group also serves as a safe space for conversations on race-related issues in support of students' academic and professional growth.

Ultimately, AASAP hopes to translate this into action for the community around us: 

"Through experience in community development, leadership and design, students will be able to apply the knowledge to transform and revitalize neighborhoods that are often overlooked."

ASAAP Officers:

  • Zakary Korosh, President
  • Rosanna Valencia, Vice President
  • Nofel Sohail, Event Coordinator
  • Melanie Morales, Social Media Coordinator 
  • Diana Genao, Secretary
  • Jeff Choulette, Historian
  • Petreen Thomas, Treasurer

Members of the African American Students of Architecture and Planning participate in a creative exercise at a recent convening in Hayes Hall. Photos by Melanie Morales

In celebration of Black History Month, the School of Architecture and Planning is lifting up voices of Black students across our programs. Follow the campaign on social: #BlackExcellence #BlackHistoryMonth #InclusiveExcellence