By Bethany Cox Staff Writer
As soon as she arrived on campus in Fall 2014, Ashley Saunders walked into The Center for Student Involvement and Leadership and asked, “Where’s the black student union?”
The office assistant directed her to the African Students Association. She joined and made friends there, but she was still alarmed that there was no black student organization on campus.
“While we as black students may have a connection to Africa, our heritage as African and black are non synonymous,” Saunders said. At that point the junior decided she was going to relaunch the John Jay Black Student Union.
After an almost 10-year hiatus, the Black Student Union is once again on the college’s organization roster. BSU has no budget or club room as of now, but they are already present on the John Jay campus.
After several recent instances involving racism at the University of Missouri , John Jay’s BSU brought several clubs together for a demonstration Nov. 18th. They stood in solidarity with students at Mizzou in the Atrium alongside the John Jay statue. Because they didn’t get the protest approved by administration , they were unable to use microphones or megaphones. Lynette Cooke-Francis, the VP of student affairs, came from her office and gave the demonstrators a megaphone.
Unlike other culture-based clubs on campus, the Black Student Union is much more general. “I’m black, but I don’t fit into the specific categories that the clubs provide,” says senior Deandra Williams.
It is almost impossible to create clubs for every culture because of the African diaspora. All black students whether African, Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean, or African American have a place with BSU.
According to the John Jay website, 21% of students at John Jay are black. It is important that they feel welcome. Its important for black students to have a team that they can come to when they feel discriminated against.
“As fierce advocates for justice, we will fight against injustice against students of color at any institution including our own,” said Saunders. John Jay’s BSU is also a place for people of any background to learn more about black culture or the black experience from several points of view.
“I am so proud that we finally have a BSU,” said Kenneth Holmes, dean of students. “I believe that every collegiate institution should have one.”
The BSU had their first general meeting Nov. 24 in collaboration with another club, Shut Up and Listen. It was an open mic where the floor was open for students to ask questions, say a poem, or rap without censorship. Danielle Officer, the director of CSIL, also shared words of wisdom:“I was a part of a similar organization in my day and I am so glad that I did. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t.”