The Black Student Union: Revival & Growth After COVID-19

The Black Student Union: Revival & Growth After COVID-19

Since its founding in 1968, Colgate’s Black Student Union (BSU) has been known by many names — first called the Association of Black Collegians, then the African American Student Alliance and finally as the Black Student Union. Though the organization’s name has changed over the years, its mission to stimulate the cultural, political, international and educational identity of Black students at Colgate has remained central.

It is this mission that inspires new Colgate students to join the organization each year and inspired current sophomore and BSU Secretary Joudenie Germain to get involved in her first year at Colgate.

“I joined BSU after I was nominated to a core position in the organization. I was thrilled to join because not only did BSU’s mission to stimulate a cultural identity to students across campus resonate with me, but I was interested in building a strong community and helping others do the same through events and encouraging involvement on campus,” Germain said.

A core mission of the BSU as stated by their constitution is “To unite and organize the Black community in adjusting to the Colgate environment.” BSU works to help its members and the greater Black community through this adjustment by hosting events and discussions as well as providing safe spaces for students to simply be themselves.

Senior and BSU President Sophia Beresford helps to facilitate many of these events and she reflected on a recent meeting of the BSU.

“Yesterday, we had our first BSU meeting of the semester and the topic was Black conspiracy theories. It might seem like it would be a serious topic, but the whole time we were just saying random things, laughing and connecting through the experience,” Beresford said.

Germain places in-depth discussions at general meetings such as this one as her personal favorite club activity.

“The discussions that happen during our general meetings always rang[e] across a wide variety of topics of relevance to the Black community, and it is always interesting to hear the unique perspectives of members,” Germain said.

“We are just a fun group of people who talk about different topics, some serious, some not. A lot of the time, our meetings are more about coming together and supporting one another than anything else,” Beresford explained.

Senior and Treasurer Sephora Zeze attends meetings regularly and values the community and support system that BSU has provided her with over the years.

“BSU has been my place of solace on this campus since freshman year,” Zeze said.

In addition to the BSU’s formal missions of stimulating Black identity, assisting with adjustment and promoting inclusively between cultural clubs on campus, the organization has also had to create new goals in the wake of COVID-19. 

“Like all the other cultural clubs, a huge theme for BSU this year has been revival since COVID. We’re constantly working to collaborate with each other and bridge any gaps that there may be. It’s a lot of work, but it’s so important for us to come together,” Beresford said.

Just one of the ways that BSU is working to create this unity between cultural groups is through hosting and collaborating on events with other cultural groups on campus.

“Every day, we are thinking, ‘Well how can we attract this group of people, how can we involve this group of people, how can we make ourselves the most inclusive we can be?’” explained Beresford.

In the weeks to come, students can look forward to a wealth of BSU-sponsored and affiliated events including career-focused networking events, social events like the fourth annual POC Formal set for Feb. 23rd, and casual events such as the Black Lives Matter Potluck set for Feb. 24. 

The POC Formal in particular is a source of great excitement for Beresford, in part because it signifies a return to normalcy after so much was disrupted by COVID-19 the past two years.

“We haven’t had [the formal] since my sophomore year because of COVID, so I’m really excited. We’re holding it at the Hour Glass and there’s going to be food, music and dancing. It’ll be just like it used to be,” Beresford reminisced.

Yet another exciting event on the horizon for BSU is a silent disco party at the Edge Café tentatively set for later in the month. The event will be a collaboration between cultural clubs including Colgate Brothers and Sisters of the Round Table; Beresford is confident that it will be a good time.

This will be a great opportunity for the different [cultural] clubs to get together and members to get to know each other better. It’s been a while since we were last able to host events like this, and I think we’re more than ready to get back to it,” Beresford said.

If you are interested in joining the BSU, regular meetings this semester are held every Thursday from 7-8 p.m. in the Harlem Renaissance Center. Additionally, another great way to stay up to date on upcoming BSU events and collaborations is to follow them on Instagram @colgatebsu.