Black Student Union brings black student groups together

Sarah Klaphake

The Black Student Union and its members’ friends can be found debating politics, giving academic advice, planning events and just hanging out any day of the week at their office in Coffman Union.

With 600 registered members, senior and Vice President Gladys Mambo said, the group is even bigger when one adds the large number of people who go to events and hang out with the group. Mambo said there are about 1,800 black students on campus.

Mohamed Turay, a marketing senior who has been involved with the union for four years, said it is a place where anyone can hang out and get advice about school and life.

“Leaders in the group plan events, help fellow students with their regular problems and discuss the issues of the day,” Turay said.

Cedric Bolton, a student personnel worker at the African-American Learning Resource Center, works closely with the union and said he considers it a great University asset.

“They bring in speakers, lecturers and comedians Ö to help inspire the students to be more involved,” Bolton said.

The union also tries to make college life enjoyable and less stressful, Turay said.

But Mambo said the most important thing the group does is bring together black student groups on campus.

To do this more effectively, the union started the Black Student Leadership Council, a group made up of the leaders from many campus black student groups.

The council works to plan events and discuss issues concerning the black community.

Mambo said the union also works with other campus cultural centers to get them involved with their group.

But Mambo said all interested students are welcome at union events.

“Everyone is welcome at all of our events, because what is the point of talking to just black students?” Mambo said. “We want everyone to come.”

Although the union has worked with every cultural center on campus, Mambo said they have not been able to reach the average University white student.

Mambo said it is difficult for them to reach those students because there is no white cultural center on campus for the union to work with and build a solid relationship.

Mambo said most of the union’s events are aimed at black students’ interests. But in February, union members said, they hope some of their events – such as hip-hop week – will interest all students.

“The events we hold are a way for us to reach out to (everyone),” Mambo said.

Union members will meet with the leadership council Thursday to discuss plans for Black History Month, which is February. The meeting is open to all students interested in planning and supporting Black History Month.

The Black Student Union started in 1969 under the name Africana. The name was changed two years ago to reflect the black student population’s diversity. Mambo said the new name is all-encompassing, and that the union recognizes and celebrates the different identities within the black community.