Black Student Union recognized by college

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Members of the new Black Student Union at the college met with KU's BSU sponsor Leticia Gradington. Photo courtesy of the BSU.

Bryan Ponce

Special to the Ledger

At the beginning of the semester a group of students emerged with a goal of breaking common racial stereotypes, bringing people together and starting a conversation. On Oct. 10 the college officially recognized the new Black Student Union (BSU).

The BSU is a place where people of any ethnicity and background can come together explained student Marc Holmes.

“It’s a unique place that allows students to share personal stories about growing up and what it’s like to be a different ethnicity without feeling judged or made fun of,” Holmes said.

Jesse Black, BSU Vice President, thinks one of the most important aspects of the BSU is education.

“I think more than anything it’s education, not only for yourself, but for other people,” Black said.  “Even black people talking to other people about black problems, about stuff they faced and knowing you’re not alone.”

Black discussed what life has been like for him growing up mixed and some of the issues he’s faced.

“I thought I was the only kid in high school who had identity problems so it turns out that everyone at the table also did and I thought it was a mixed thing, but it wasn’t,” Black said.

Arriq Singleton, BSU President, does not take all the credit for starting the BSU. According to Singleton the idea came when he and student Jalen Greene were doing homework. Greene casually mentioned the idea of starting a BSU on campus and the idea came together the more they talked.

“Jalen was adamant about mobilizing and moving on with the idea and really bringing it to existence,” Singleton said.

Singleton talked about some of the difficulties with recruitment. He said in the beginning it was all word of mouth and that it was hard going up to strangers and talking to them about the BSU.

“I had to change the way I thought about it because the whole point of BSU is so that we wouldn’t be strangers to each other,” Singleton said.

Student Jacob Casselman described his experience attending the the BSU as a positive one.

“I think what was most interesting about the group is something that I don’t see in a lot of clubs [which] is that everyone who is there really wants to be there. When the meeting concludes people want to stick around,” Casselman said.

Since the beginning of the semester the BSU has been met with a positivity by many students at their weekly meetings. Singleton has made an impact not only on the students but on professors as well. Cathy Schrag, an adjunct speech professor, helps advise the BSU along with English professor Danny Alexander and international education coordinator Farrel Jenab.

“I think Arriq Singleton is just amazing and I think his energy and his passion towards just black history and the struggle of African Americans is contagious,” Schrag said.

Schrag said one thing she has been learning more about of in the BSU is acknowledging the black struggle.

“There is an ignorance for people within the United States about what the struggle is truly like. The struggle is real and you can’t just dismiss it,” Schrag said.

According to Schrag, Singleton presents these issues in such a way that everyone can feel welcome and encouraged to give their opinion.

“He’s an incredible spokesperson and representative of the Black Student Union and really I think he’s giving black students a voice and giving them a safe space to really share their struggles and their experiences to really feel validated,” Schrag said.

The BSU currently meets every Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in the COM building’s Down Under area. Students interested in joining can contact any current member.

-Helen Hernandez contributed to this report

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