Imani Vincent, staff writer
Having a self-aware community is pivotal for the growth and development of our campus at Utica College.
This is exactly what the Black Student Union (BSU) does. BSU first became a recognized organization about 30 years ago. Its purpose is to promote activities of common interest as well as cultural and educational benefits for the African American student body. Being aware of the different social issues we face today is a lesson we all must learn.
BSU holds many events on campus that not only empower black voices but also bring different cultures together under one roof. With February comes Black History Month, and BSU is holding many events throughout the month and year. The events are a good source of information and insight in addition to being fun and community-building. Some events BSU holds include the Fright the Fashion show and the Kwanzaa Banquet. There is also Apollo Night, a friendly competition to see who is the best performer. BSU also usually has a Midnight Cookout to conclude the spring semester and academic year, held in the quad and welcome to the whole campus.
The President of Black Student Union, Pat Gortman, a business management major with a concentration in marketing, provided helpful insight on the organization. She explained that being president has taught her a lot about responsibility and being a part of something greater than herself.
“It is important to have an organization where diverse students can feel welcome while advocating for equality and cultural awareness,” Gortman said.
BSU has been degraded in recent years, and Gortman is working hard to rebuild the integrity of the organization. She has been working closely with James Vaughan of Incarcerated Flavors to start monthly HIV/STD testings on campus. Gortman explained that BSU is very aware of the racial and ethnic challenges present in today’s society.
“Black Student Union makes an effort to make the UC community more self conscious about the race issues with the forums that we have,” Gortman said. “Also, we try to address topics in an educational and professional manner, with no judgments and openness to everyone’s opinion.”
Jayson Bretton, the public relations chair for BSU, has gotten more out of the club than just learning more about black culture.
“BSU has given me better knowledge on the history of black culture and also it has provided me with a leadership position that helped expand my public speaking skills,” Bretton said.
Bretton said BSU contributes to the community by hosting events and forums that are informative about the African American culture.
BSU provides information about race tribulations with forums and educational events all year. With the organization’s hard work, which Gortman portrayed, BSU can reach a platform that has never before reached. Its events provide the campus community with not only education, but a good dose of entertainment and fun as well.