An all-inclusive environment

Members of BSU after their bowling event at South Bowl (Photo courtesy of Alexis Wilson ’19).
Written by Amber Denham

Black Student Union hosts on-campus and off-campus events.

In the St. Joe’s community, a Latin phrase that’s often heard is “cura personalis,” or “care for the whole person.” This is one of the most well known missions at St. Joe’s, where students explore their own interests and talents, as well as being open and accepting of others around them. The Black Student Union (BSU) strives to carry out this message.

This organization was created with the intention to provide a safe space for people of color on campus, where students could feel open to share their experiences and culture with the St. Joe’s community. However, one of the most important foundations of BSU is extending the community campus-wide through social, cultural and educational events.

“We hope these events will kind of bridge that gap between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ because we never wanted it to be ‘us’ and ‘them,’ ” said Alexis Wilson ’19, one of the co-presidents of BSU.  “We want it to be all inclusive.”

Wilson discovered BSU during her freshman year and joined as a general member of the organization. The following year, she became more involved and held the position of publicist. She is currently one of the BSU co-presidents for the 2017-2018 academic year. On the executive board with Wilson is Jacqueline Hamilton ’19, the organization’s secretary.

“We’re an open community. We don’t discriminate; [BSU] isn’t just for black people, which many people might think that it is. We want other people [to join] because it makes [the organization] better,” Hamilton said. 

To celebrate Black History Month throughout the month of February, BSU worked on creating a collection of events for students to enjoy, including social, cultural and educational programs.

To kick off the month, BSU held a bowling party at South Bowl on Feb. 2 for students start their weekend on a fun note. Following the party, on Feb. 10 students will have the opportunity to visit an exhibit about black comics and Martin Luther King at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, while looking forward to a trip to the 76ers game on Valentine’s Day. In addition to off-campus events, Wilson explained the opportunity for students to incorporate their academic life with BSU for their final event.

“The ‘Journey to Success’ event with the Career Development Center will have different alumni and professionals come in and talk about their journey to success and how they got to where they are now,” Wilson said.

In addition to the executive board, Destiny Green ’18 has been a member of BSU since her freshman year and enjoys all that the organization has to offer.

“I participated in the early move-in program called ‘Running Start.’ The upperclassmen who were ambassadors told me about it. It was easy [to join] because a lot of people I knew in the program were interested as well,” Green said. “[But] my favorite thing about BSU is that it’s a space that I am comfortable in. Being a black student on SJU’s campus can have its difficult times and I’ve had my fair share of uncomfortableness, but when I attend meetings, events, or even [hang] with the members, it’s another place I can call home.”

While BSU hosts many events, one of their biggest events is a collaboration with Residence Life and the Office of Inclusion and Diversity to see the upcoming film “Black Panther” on its opening night at Riverview Theatre. This is followed by the annual BSU Talent Show, which always brings a large audience.

“There is kind of a stigma of that we all kind of sit and just talk about being black, but we have so many great programs that are so much more than that,” Wilson said. “We would love for all different types of people to come. Even though [the goal of] our club is to provide that comforting space for black students, it’s also to educate and expose everybody to it, and having allies is such an important part of being a minority on a predominantly white campus. So the St. Joe’s community should definitely come to BSU events.”

About the author

Amber Denham

Amber Denham, '18

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