By TERRY LAKINS, Student Life Editor

(Logo courtesy of Black Student Union on Facebook)
(Logo courtesy of Black Student Union on Facebook)

The Black Student Union is a student organization that is designated as a social advocate for issues concerning African-American students.

Natasha Gilbert, the president of the BSU, said the club is known for being a safe space for black students and those wanting to discuss these topics, especially some that can be sensitive or controversial. BSU has bi-weekly gatherings, called general body meetings, where topics and issues that are relevant to the club are discussed. The topics themselves vary, but have often included the “Black Lives Matter” movement and black feminism.

“They can interact with each other from the same walk of life,” Gilbert said. Gilbert also said despite most of the members being African-American and having similar backgrounds, there are many opposing viewpoints and opinions. Gilbert said this is what makes the discussions so diverse and interesting, and members can do this in an environment that is safe and honest.

“You can expect to have an open and honest discussion,” Gilbert said. The attendance for general body meetings is anywhere from five to 30 students on average.

BSU also has bi-weekly study table, which occurs on the weeks that general body meetings are not happening. This consists of a simple space where the members can study together and form a study group if need be. Gilbert said the idea was not only provide a quiet area every other week, but to also remind students that studying is essential.

“We are students first,” Gilbert said. “And I believe in a good education.”

Though discussions are the bread and butter of the group, there are other events to attend. Gilbert said they have a talent show, called Night of the Soul, which is held at the end of every Black History Month. This event showcases dance, rapping, singing and spoken word (similar to beat poetry). Gilbert also said they attend the Black Celebratory, which is a graduation for African-American students. The graduates at this particular event receive graduation stoles made in Africa from Kente cloth. This event is presented by the African-American Alumni Affiliate and the African and African-American studies department.

The student organization also attends their own honor ceremony, called the BSU Honors. This is an honor ceremony where current African-American students are recognized for certain achievements. These categories include most academic, most improved (awarded to a freshman), and the Dr. Gloria House achievement award (given to a faculty member or advisor).

Gilbert said during the fall one of their biggest events is the Divine 9 yard show. This involves nine African-American Greek life organizations, which consist of five fraternities and four sororities. Each organization will hold an event that teaches their history through choreographed dance, called stepping and strolling.

Gilbert said other fall events are on hiatus at the moment. She said they are subjected to change or add more with the hopes that there will be more social events that will align with social issues. Though Gilbert’s term as president ends with this semester she hopes more activism will be revived for the coming fall. Gilbert also said though the focus is on black students anyone is welcome to become a part of the discussions.

Anyone interested can contact Black Student Union at bsu.umd@gmail.com, on Facebook at bsu um-Dearborn or Instagram at umd_bsu.