North Texas Daily

Student organization spotlight: the Black Student Union

Student organization spotlight: the Black Student Union

Student organization spotlight: the Black Student Union
May 27
11:00 2021

As student organizations across campus get ready 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, voice and advocacy for all Black students” President Jermaine Turner said.  One of the most prominent student groups on campus, BSU is an umbrella organization that empowers Black students and advocates for them to university administration. Last year, 19 organizations were under BSU, including the African Students Organization, the National Society for Black Engineers and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.   

“The biggest thing I’ve gotten out of BSU is a family,” Turner said. “A family of leaders who really want to focus on social justice-oriented issues and advocate for every Black student on campus. You have a group of people to support and uplift you.”

BSU offers a variety of experiences from social events, educational panels and charity drives. Its Sydney Gray Development Program provides professional development internships to freshmen and transfer students. BSU’s numerous committees allow students to serve and engage in their interests, whether that is programming, finance or mental health and wellness. 

Despite the university’s decrease in student participation during the COVID-19 pandemic, BSU saw the same rate of membership during the 2020-2021 year. The organization’s virtual events received high turnouts and the executive board election for the upcoming year received a large amount of applications.

Dedicated to a vision of making a BSU for everyone, Turner and his Vice President Corey Lawrence Vallien have still made changes to promote membership.   This upcoming year, Turner and Vallien are keeping BSU membership and committee applications open throughout both semesters. Turner said the change gives students “free range” and “an option to be involved all year.” 

“I would encourage [new students] to apply for the intern program or a committee they feel passionate about to work with,” Turner said. 

The new BSU administration is also working to increase its affiliated organizations this year. With a revamped coalition of organizations, both Black and ‘allyship’ student groups can be under the BSU umbrella. The allyship designation is for organizations that are not fully focused on serving Black students but would still like to be involved in the BSU coalition.  Turner said the need for this expansion was identified by Black students who were members of said outside organizations who also wanted to be a part of BSU.

Groups affiliated with BSU are given the opportunity to participate in Fall Ball, Spring Ball and organization of the month awards, while also given access to President’s Council meetings and general student body meetings. Turner is also looking to support affiliated groups with funding for their own programs. 

“Through BSU, I feel like I can do anything in life, not just on this campus,” Turner said. “I’m really excited for us to get back in person, start doing new events, start implementing a BSU for everybody with our initiatives, […] just making sure that every Black student knows that they can always have a home within BSU.”

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Ileana Garnand

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