Black Student Union to focus on freshmen recruitment and retention


BSU’s mission is for there to be no need for BSU

Holly Shively and Holly Shively

Members of this year’s Black Student Union Executive Board plan to continue spreading the organization’s message to as many students, faculty, staff and community members as possible.

Since its inception in 1969, Black Student Union’s vision has been for there no longer to be a BSU–for there no longer to be a need for BSU.

President Juantez Bates and Vice President Kyle Jumper-Smith plan to increase freshmen membership specifically.

“Studies show that if you are active your freshmen year, it tends to allow you to stay in college longer than those who aren’t active,” Bates said.

He hopes to foster a relationship between freshmen and upperclassmen to encourage classroom and extracurricular involvement.

Jumper-Smith’s plans to gain freshmen members and help with retention involve an active presence on social media, including the new Snapchat BSU_BGSU.

“We’re trying to get more people to be involved with us on social media and build up those relationships so that students of color or students in underrepresented communities don’t feel left out or don’t feel welcomed here at BG and plan to transfer the next year,” Jumper-Smith said. 

BSU is also using Twitter polls, having students around campus speak on the Snapchat and highlighting students who are doing good things in the community, Jumper-Smith said.

“We’re really trying to get that empowerment aspect and uplifting students just to be great on campus,” Jumper-Smith said.

BSU is the umbrella organization for almost all organizations of people of color.

“BSU created that space for people of color to even be able to have an org, because before they were predominantly white, so people didn’t think they could start a student org,” Bates said. “Since then other organizations have been created because they think they have been empowered.

“It’s getting there, but not in a timely manner,” Jumper-Smith said. 

He said BSU has evolved because one of the original focuses was to get more faculty of color. Now there are more faculty and graduate students of color, and Black Graduate Student Organization is starting up.

“It’s looking for more spaces for students to identify with and have more resources. That’s probably the slowest part of the process,” Jumper-Smith said.

Bates said there can still be more black faculty, and space is also an issue.

The multicultural lounge was moved when the Career Center and Employment Services transferred into the second floor of the Union.

Jumper-Smith said the original Multicultural Lounge was a place to meet, plan, study and hang out, and it was filled with multicultural art that has since been moved to other locations. 

The lounge is now outside the newly constructed Career Center, but it’s just like a normal lounge for all students, Bates said. 

“That defeats the purpose of actually having that space because we can’t occupy that space,” he said.

BSU meets on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., with each meeting date strategically placed around other campus events, Bates said.

“We will have at least one a month, guaranteed,” he said.

While 50 to 60 members are active in attending meetings and events, Bates said nearly 400 people claim membership to the organization when looking at OrgSync numbers.

The first Talk to Me Thursday will come on Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. where students can discuss their feelings about the elections and register to vote.

BSU also has a presence at Campus Fest Sept. 1, followed by the first general body meeting in the community room of Harshman at 7:30 p.m. the same day.

Bates said the first meeting is intended to welcome students of color and all other students the University and foster a safe space to get to know each other.