Black Student Union aims for inclusion of all

UAA’s Black Student Union welcomes everyone to their club. A club that wants everyone to get on board, regardless of culture, to be a safe place where those individuals can relate with each other and further understand different perspective.

“The Black Student Union exists to serve the UAA community. It encourages inclusion, it is cultivating a sense of unity within the student body,” Nile Morris, BSU vice president said.

Anthony Taylor, BSU secretary, Nyariak Kuany, BSU treasurer and Morris have worked to keep BSU an active club on campus during more of the club’s rougher times of low attendance and lack of interest. Morris is determined to keep the BSU a safe space for those who are or have been discriminated against, to give those individuals a voice and become “beacons of justice” in the community.

The officers of the Black Student Union, Cheryl Williams, Nile Morris, Madelynn Martinez, Nyariak Kuany, Raquel "Rocky" Williams and Anthony Taylor strive to keep the club a safe place for all and encourages inclusion.
The officers of the Black Student Union, Cheryl Williams, Nile Morris, Madelynn Martinez, Nyariak Kuany, Raquel “Rocky” Williams and Anthony Taylor strive to keep the club a safe place for all and encourages inclusion. (Hannah Price not pictured) Photo credit: Young Kim

The club is growing and currently has 12 to 15 participants, a growth from only five participants that were involved when Morris joined. Being a part of BSU can help individuals strengthen their leadership skills and engage with others who have experienced similar situations regarding prejudice and discrimination.

“It’s a really diverse group of individuals,” Morris said. “I think a lot of people think of members of the Black Student Union as only being individuals with higher amounts of melanin, so, yeah, our phenotypic expression is we have darker skin. When in reality, it wasn’t only black people that fought for civil rights, wasn’t only black people that brought so many advances to African Americans, it was everybody. Really, if anybody is looking for any civic engagement or project in which they can become a part of something greater than themselves, the Black Student Union is open to them.”

Club Council vice chair, Rose Kruger, said the BSU club started in 2010. She said they always make the meetings and are in good standing. The club has shown support for its members, like when member Mabil Duir died in 2013 and the club donated financial support to his family.

BSU is hoping to have events for Black History Month in February, partnering with the American Cancer Society to bring awareness about discrimination, racism and cultural exclusion as public health issues.

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“The Black Student Union will only succeed as the student body will want it to succeed, if you don’t come support clubs on campus, if you don’t engage with the university, if you don’t give feedback, these programs won’t exist… [The student body] needs to show it’s something they value, and in turn we’ll show we value you,” Morris said.

The BSU meets every other Thursday in the Multicultural Center in Rasmuson Hall at 5 p.m.