Black Students for Unity (BSU) is a new club looking to promote and unify black students and other minorities on Mercyhurst campus.
The club was started last February by junior Public Health major, Kennethea Wilson.
Wilson said the club tries to unite students coming from a disadvantaged background, who might happen to be black.
“That does not necessarily make that inclusive or exclusive of any other group, but we are trying to make sure that those coming from similar backgrounds are able to converse with each other and then to do certain events and social gatherings that allow them to feel more comfortable and have a better college experience here at Mercyhurst,” Wilson said.
Wilson started the club because she felt that there was a need to allow students coming from African backgrounds or disadvantaged backgrounds to network with each other and build relations with people at both the Mercyhurst and Erie communities.
“It might be uncomfortable for them to emerge themselves in the predominantly white culture of the university. Mercyhurst has typically had events that represent cultures that might not be understood by other people, because they come from different backgrounds,” said Wilson, “so the need for programming events on campus and other initiatives that welcome other types of cultures is kind of the reason I started it.”
Wilson comes from a diverse background in Rochester, N.Y. When she first came to Mercyhurst, it was a culture shock seeing what she said was a lack of diversity in the community.
It was during her freshman year that she saw the need for more organized representation at Mercyhurst.
Moving into her sophomore year, Wilson realized that it was the time to do something, because she was not comfortable with the environment and that she felt did not make her or others feel socially accepted.
This is when she decided to create an organization that allowed for different types of cultures to come together to have dialogues, have a good time with each other and not feel that they are being excluded in any way.
As part of their activities, the BSU is in the midst of donating money to East High School in Erie, in order to assist in paying for the SAT exams for three students. The club raised $144 with a talent show that they organized on homecoming weekend this year.
They are planning on having a reception dinner in November with Mercyhurst University President Tom Gamble, Ph.D., who is helping them pay for the cost of the dinner. The purpose of the event is to present the three students from East High School with the checks for their SAT exams.
They will also have programs coming up in Black History month in February. The club is planning to team up with the Multicultural Center and other clubs such as the Students for Liberty League, the Public Health Club and the Social Workers Club to perform the programs.
These are tentative as of now. They will also host a semi-formal dance in April.
They held a formal last year as well, which Wilson says was a complete success.
“Those events are geared to bridge the gaps of people who might not talk regularly and get them in a setting to have dialogues,” said Wilson.
The reason they have ‘Black’ in the club’s name and not ‘Minority’ is because they are targeting specifically African Descendent groups here on campus, but when it comes to members, they can of course be descendents of any race.
The overall goal is to increase the connection of black students within the community, an activity in which everyone is invited.