The Black Student Union (BSU) held an interest meeting for new students to join them by using ice-breakers, having deep discussions and talking about current events with potential new members.
The interest meeting began with BSU President Naiser Warren-Robinson, sophomore communication and Black studies major, introducing himself and the other members of the executive board of BSU to everyone who attended the meeting at the Cottage on Thursday, Sept. 17. The other executive board members are Vice-President Angelique Lewis, Treasurer Samantha Belle, Secretary Geraldine Brown and Social Media Co-Chairs Armani Parker and Geralyn Brown. Jose Rodriguez, chief diversity officer and adviser of BSU, was there with his mother, as well as alumnus Xavier Taylor, to help students understand what BSU is all about.
“I just want people to feel like this is a safe space for anybody, whether you are not a person of color or a person of color…I just want everybody to feel welcomed to Black Student Union to voice your opinion,” Parker, sophomore graphic design major and one of the social media co-chairs, said.
This is everyone’s first year being part of BSU’s executive board. They were handed the keys and are working hard to create events for new members. However, it is difficult for them to plan events with the COVID-19 restrictions that need to be followed. They want to make this year as entertaining and helpful as they can and won’t let COVID-19 stop them from spreading awareness.
After introductions and ice-breakers were over, the leaders of BSU started to have deep discussions from being minorities on campus to how COVID-19 has impacted everyone to current events affecting African Americans. Taylor took a moment to discuss with attendees the importance of being supportive of one another on campus. He continued to say that as minorities, they don’t have the luxury to pack up and leave; therefore, it is important for everyone to support one another.
Warren-Robinson then asked attendees of the interest meeting how COVID-19 impacted them personally. Since most attendees were freshmen, they expressed how they were not able to enjoy or celebrate typical events that most high school seniors experience, such as prom and graduation. This led to an activity set up by the executive board members of BSU to allow attendees to discuss issues with current events, such as politics, oppression, race and police. Large pieces of paper were placed on each table with one of the tables with different topics labeled at the top of each one. Attendees were given markers and asked to write one word that they feel when they see the word labeled at the top. At the end of activity, members of the executive board took turns holding up each poster one by one and discussing what people wrote.
“We try to make the members aware that you have a right to have your opinion,” Parker said. “Because at the end of the day, you may not know it, but someone somewhere within the same society feels the exact same way you feel.”
Those in attendance discussed how African Americans feel about these particular issues and people’s different experiences concerning these issues. Many attendees had strong feelings when it came to these topics, especially about the police. The BSU executive members used this activity as a way to allow attendees to talk about important issues as well as to provide a safe space for everyone to freely talk and express themselves. BSU wants their members to be able come with an open mind and leave with more knowledge and feel as though their voice has been heard.
“You’re voice is important, and you’re voice needs to be heard,” Rodriguez said.
The executive members wanted to assure future BSU members that their club is a safe space for anyone to talk about anything, even deeper topics of discussion.
“I want BSU to be the place where students can come to for sanctuary and help because not a lot of students know where to go when things like microaggressions happen to them,” Warren-Robinson said. “They don’t necessarily feel welcomed all the time in this community, I want BSU to be that welcoming community for them. I don’t think it’s been seen like that in the past years but that’s something we’re trying to change.”
BSU is a community that doesn’t discriminate. Their mission is fairness and equal treatment, and this is something they want for everyone, no matter their race or skin color. BSU is vocal about making sure that new and current members feel comfortable expressing their feelings and concerns.
As of right now, there have been no set collaboration events with BSU and other clubs. However, recently there was a meeting between BSU, Spectrum, Pura Vida and Muslim Student Association (MSA). They got together to talk about the difficulties they’re facing, considering the events that have taken place since the beginning of 2020. The organizations also discussed how they can make everyone’s organization a force for change and good on campus.