Black Student Union – North Texas Daily
As student organizations across campus prepare for an in-person fall experience, the Black Student Union is implementing new ways to serve the school population.
Since 2012, the Black Student Union has acted as “a beacon, a voice and an advocate for all black students,” said President Jermaine Turner. One of the largest student groups on campus, BSU is an umbrella organization that empowers and advocates for black students to university administration. Last year, 19 organizations were under BSU, including the Organization of African Students, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
“The biggest thing I’ve taken away from BSU is family,” Turner said. “A family of leaders who really want to focus on social justice issues and stand up for all the black students on campus. You have a group of people to support you and uplift you.
BSU offers a variety of experiences of social events, educational panels and charity campaigns. Its Sydney Gray Development Program offers professional development internships to freshmen and transfer students. BSU’s many committees allow students to serve and engage in their interests, whether it be programs, finances, or mental health and wellness.
Despite the university’s declining student participation during the COVID-19 pandemic, BSU experienced the same membership rate during the year 2020-2021. The organization’s virtual events received a high turnout and the election of the Board of Directors for the coming year received a large number of nominations.
Dedicated to the vision of creating a BSU for everyone, Turner and his vice president Corey Lawrence Vallien made further changes to promote membership. This coming year, Turner and Vallien are keeping applications for BSU members and committees open throughout both semesters. Turner said the change gives students “a freedom of choice” and “an option to be involved year round.”
“I would encourage [new students] to apply to the internship program or to a committee that they feel passionate about working with, ”Turner said.
The new BSU administration is also working to increase its affiliate organizations this year. With a reshuffled coalition of organizations, black student groups and “allies” can come under the umbrella of the BSU. The Ally designation is for organizations that are not entirely focused on serving black students, but still want to get involved in the BSU coalition. Turner said the need for this expansion had been identified by black students who were members of these outside organizations who also wanted to be part of BSU.
BSU affiliated groups have the opportunity to participate in the Fall Ball, Spring Ball, and monthly awards organization, while also having access to President’s Council meetings and general student body meetings. Turner also seeks to support affiliate groups by funding their own programs.
“Thanks to BSU, I feel like I can do anything for a living, not just on this campus,” Turner said. “I’m really excited that we’re coming back in person, starting to organize new events, starting to implement a BSU for everyone with our initiatives, […] just making sure every black student knows they can still have a place to call home at BSU. “
Featured Illustration By Miranda thomas