Michael Free Jr.
The Black Student Union is an organization that has been present for decades, dating back to 1969. The organization was designed for the purpose of stimulating black unity, provoking awareness of issues in the black community, participating in the social and political aspects of the black community among other goals.
Universities and colleges around the nation began to adopt this idea, forming Black Student Unions of their own. Recently, Pierce College Puyallup joined the list of these colleges when their own Black Student Union was formed in fall quarter of 2014. It may have taken a while, but many on campus hope that the creation of this club will spark a movement and togetherness that Pierce College Puyallup has never seen before.
When student D’angelo Harvey transferred to Pierce after moving to Washington, he asked The Office of Student Life leaders not if there was a Black Student Union but where it was. He was disheartened when he was informed that Pierce College didn’t have one; however, through the guidance of Roxanne Simon, equity and diversity coordinator, Harvey decided to form one. Since the conception of the BSU, Harvey notices a difference in the atmosphere.
“Before the BSU was around, I used to just go to classes, then go home because I didn’t want to be here. Now, I can’t wait for meetings and events to come around,” Harvey said.
Choosing English professor Beth Stevens as their adviser, the BSU galvanized quickly, forming weekly meetings and events at a rapid rate. Stevens said that once she was asked to be the adviser, she signed on immediately, thrilled by the potential that the club could bring. Stevens is referring to the noticeable lack of diversity at Pierce College Puyallup and lack of voice for those students.
“I was thrilled when I was asked to be the adviser because I saw the potential for this and knew it was important,” Stevens said. “The club has been much more active than clubs I’ve advised in the past. Meetings were happening about a week after we formed.”
The potential for this club is massive. It is an organization completely new to Pierce College Puyallup and is a club with a clear and direct mission.
“Part of the club’s mission is to offer events which will highlight aspects of American culture, which have previously been underrepresented, including, but not limited to black history and culture. The club’s presence on campus encourages genuine appreciation of America’s culture in a broad definition rather than narrow,” Stevens said.
The rest of the mission can be found in the club’s mission statement,
“The purpose of the Black Student Union is to provide academic and social support to BSU students, to foster our members to be leaders, pioneers and strong role models in our communities, to encourage members to be mentors, to engage the campus and surrounding communities in dialogue and activities that promote multiculturalism, and to support the values of community, learning, reverence, and service. The BSU is open to all students, staff, and faculty.
The Black Student Union will serve as an organization that fosters student development through diversity, academics and social services. We will commit to establishing partnerships with other organizations (both on and off campus) with enthusiasm. Take a proactive role in the development of strong student leadership.”
With a clear direction in both student unity and campus inclusion, the BSU wishes to present a warm and welcoming atmosphere right off the bat with its mission statement. All three of the representatives interviewed wanted to make sure that students know that while the name of the club is Black Student Union (which can not be changed due to affiliation with a national organization), it’s not a club meant exclusively for those with ties to the black community. No club can be exclusive, but BSU is a club that is determined to allow everyone to be a member, which seeks to educate anyone willing on black history, the community tied with it and a sense of nationalization.
“We are all Americans, this is a celebration of inclusion and multiculturalism,” Stevens said.
The formation of this club is very important to Pierce College.
“The importance of the BSU is that it provides students an opportunity to engage in a community which will provide support for its members, will foster accountability to each other in terms of academic as well as personal growth, and will offer everyone the opportunity to learn more about and celebrate our varied experiences within our shared history,” Stevens said.
Simon, the club representative, hopes that student attendance will increase at the events.
“We want people to show up to the events so that they can experience the atmosphere for themselves. Hopefully, after seeing what it’s like, they’ll want to go to more,” Simon said.
These events include a dinner and showing of The Loving Story, a documentary on the legalization of interracial marriages. The event takes place on Feb. 13, at 6:30 p.m. in the Multipurpose Rooms located in the College Center Building.
All of the members of the BSU hope that students will be willing to give the club a chance and attend an event that interests them. The BSU is all about creating a large and diverse family in the Pierce College Puyallup community.
“Pierce College students should consider joining the BSU to join a supportive community of their peers, meet new people, experience new aspects of their own culture, contribute aspects of their culture, and have a blast in a club that is excited about its mission and action in the world around them,” Stevens said.
For more information on the BSU or to get involved, students should attend a weekly meeting.
“Students are welcome to check out a club meeting every Friday at 10 a.m. in the meeting room of College Center 210. Club members are excited to meet interested students and share more information about the BSU,” Stevens said.
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