In honor of Black History Month, the Black Student Union hosted a week-long series of events to unite students and those looking to get involved with the group.
Criminal justice freshman Lauren James is president of the BSU and, according to her, the week of events was originally supposed to be held during February, Black History Month. The group decided to postpone the events so they could focus on planning more thoroughly.
James wants the BSU to be a place for students to go when they have a problem. Their goal for this Registered Student Organization is to “make campus better for students.”
“[Students] can come to us, and we will help them when it comes to speaking with the president and when it comes to petitions,” James said. “It’s also a space where you can come and talk about what it means to be Black. Even if you’re not Black, you can still come and voice your opinions.”
The BSU kicked off the week with a poetry slam event. Students across campus were welcome to stand in front of their peers in the David L. Eisler Center to perform poetry of any kind. The goal was to give students a creative outlet.
Since the end of the semester is creeping up, finals will be here in no time. With this, digital animation and game design senior Jaylen Woods believes that students have a lot of built-up emotion and stress that needs to be let out in a healthy way.
“We are two months away from finals,” Woods said. “You have a lot of emotion built up because of stuff that might be going on, and [you need to] let it out. Poetry is a creative outlet, and I want that for people like us. That’s a big thing.”
The poetry slam served as an icebreaker to get attendees ready for the rest of the BSU’s week of events.
On Tuesday, March 21, BSU members and participants joined together in the DEC to watch “The Wood,” a romantic comedy about three childhood friends that reminisce about their childhood.
For the third night of events, the BSU hosted a discussion called “Let’s Talk Change.” This event’s purpose was to encourage students to share problems they’ve run into on campus, especially surrounding race. Many comments related to the safe spaces Black students have on campus.
“We don’t say [anything because we’re] scared, but we need to talk about it,” marketing major Ashley Jordan said in front of the group. Jordan shared her story of facing racism within her dorm and how this led to her getting reported for trying to handle the situation herself.
An anonymous student also talked about being charged with vandalism when they tore down and reported a racist note.
“I was confused, but I took it down,” the first anonymous student shared. “I didn’t rip it down, I neatly removed the staples and took it to the front desk. I took it down because it shouldn’t have been there in the first place. [The RA staff is] supposed to be monitoring what is written on that board for this specific reason. A few days later, I got an email from the Student Code of Conduct saying I was in violation due to vandalism.”
Another anonymous student discussed the racist comments and slurs they noticed written on whiteboards outside their room or on papers that were slid under their door. Many students shared that they don’t feel they’re being listened to or taken seriously. When trying to take action, they are often told that “things like this happen.”
Jordan believes that the reason the BSU exists is because “everybody is experiencing some type of racism in some type of way.”
“There’s power in numbers,” Jordan said. “They look at it differently when it’s just one student, but [when] it’s 54 students experiencing similar issues, now they have to look at the university to solve the problem.”
After many stories and a lot of debate on how to solve these issues, the night ended with pizza and snacks.
“I don’t care if you’re Black, white or other, we all deserve respect as a human,” Woods said. “We’re all here for the same thing. At the end of the day, I want to watch all Black people walk across that stage.”
After collaborating with Diversity Advocacy for Identity and Sexuality Empowerment and other minority safe space organizations, the BSU invited students to the fourth event of the week, Black Storytellers.
This event was for students to dive into the world of storytelling in children’s literature. Students worked together to brainstorm a concept for a children’s book as a creative outlet with no censorship against Black culture. Many groups wrote stories from the perspective of a Black child learning to care for and have fun with their natural hair.
On Friday, March 24, the last night of the BSU’s events, students gathered to compete in a spades card game tournament.
Though the week ended, cultural events for Black students and beyond can still be found on the Ferris event calendar.