EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a new series that the Eastern Progress is starting in order to showcase any associations, clubs and organizations on campus for students to possibly join.
When people think of the word “union,” they often imagine two entities joining together. For the Black Student Union (BSU), however, this means giving students of all backgrounds an opportunity to learn more about the Black experience.
BSU welcomes all students to join. In its history, there have even been non-black students serving on BSU’s executive board.
Black Student Union became an official registered student organization (RSO) at Eastern Kentucky University in the spring of 2016; however, BSU’s presence at EKU dates back to the 1970s.
Before BSU was considered an official RSO, the organization was housed under the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) as an inactive organization. Though inactive in an official capacity, members still advocated for Black lives through student outreach.
The mission statement of the Black Student Union is “to educate, advocate, and promote social justice, tranquility, and equality for minority students on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus. While doing so, we encourage students to become involved on campus pertaining to academic and social affairs in a professional and effective manner.”
Members of BSU said they hope they can educate other students about the Black experience and create a safe environment to do so.
“I feel like it’s important that we advocate and teach, talk about it, explore and just empower each other, no matter what side, no matter who you represent, no matter who you vote for, anything like that,” said Jazmin Cain, BSU president. “We just ask for you to just be open about it.”
BSU has hosted many events in the past geared towards its goal of creating a safe environment for students to experience and talk about Black culture. Some of these include Family Feud nights, Uno tournaments, Aux Cord Wars and Trap n’ Paint events.
BSU also participates in community service activities, such as fundraising for New Orleans hurricane relief and working with children at the Richmond Teen Center’s after-school program.
“There was one year when we came there, and we made cookies with the kids. I believe that was around October time, like Halloween,” said MiKaela Dismukes, a member in BSU. “Georgia Parks is the director over that center, and she really likes when EKU students help with her kids.”
In addition to community service, BSU also participated in a past Black Voters Matter Panel, which discussed the importance of voting for Black students. The event was a collaboration with EKU’s NAACP event.
But due to the pandemic, these hands-on events are difficult to host now.
“We used to have new members come in all the time. It was easy back then, because I can literally bring in a new person into a meeting, and they would automatically be able to be a part of BSU,” said Cain. “But since COVID and all that, we’ve had to have a restriction on what’s going on and who’s in what.”
BSU is staying active by holding regular meetings via Zoom every two weeks.
If students are interested in joining BSU, there are membership requirements. Those seeking general membership must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA, while those seeking to run for the executive board must maintain at least a 2.75 GPA.
There is also a $20 membership fee per academic year, but students can choose to pay $10 per semester if they desire.
BSU is open to all students, regardless of race or ethnic background. In fact, members encourage those who want to learn more about the Black experience to join the organization.
“We’re open to anybody,” said Cain. “If you feel like we can benefit from you and you can benefit from us, then you’re able to join.”
Interested members can contact members through BSU’s Instagram page @bsu_eku or directly email the organization through Engage. Simply make the subject line “BSU Interest” and introduce yourself.
Going forward, BSU hopes students can become more involved in conferences.
“I hope that after COVID, right now, with everything going on, that BSU can participate in more conferences,” said Dismukes. “I thought that was a great way to network, and it helps you with professional development. So, I would say things like that. I hope BSU students are able to see that because, right now, they can’t.”
Members also said they hope to raise BSU’s profile on campus.
“I want BSU to go further than where it’s at now. I want it to be one of the most important organizations — the most respected organization on campus,” said Cain. “You know, like, ‘Can’t nobody touch BSU.’ That’s what I want for the future.”
You can visit BSU’s Engage page here (https://eku.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/black-student-union ) and their Twitter page @ekubsu1.