Letters: Black Student (Dis)Union

By Lauren Sampson

Member of the Black Student Union

On the Haitian flag there is the motto ‘L’union fait la Force,’ meaning there is strength through unity. Black Student Union (BSU) member Lauren Sampson supports student “unity” to overcome apathy. This year, there has been low attendence at several BSU events. (AP Photo).

The Black Student Union (BSU) has been an official student organization at the College since 1981. Since that time it has been an integral part of the campus community. That is, until now. BSU was the political voice for not only the minority student body but also faculty and staff. In the George Jackson Center (GJC), there are photo albums of events past. While flipping through the pages I saw pictures of students in Washington, D.C. protesting, students celebrating Kwanzaa and general body meetings that were so full students had to stand along the walls. I can only ask — What has happened?

This academic year BSU has hosted a number of programs and events that have had very low attendance. Black History Month, in the opinion of many students, was a failure. It would be easy to point the finger at the current president, Otasha Clark, but the problem lies deeper. Ms. Clark organized a wonderful program that presented students the opportunity to network with young professionals. Not only was general body attendance low but those who hold leadership positions in BSU did not attend. How does a leader in an organization not attend a program that his or her organization is sponsoring?

The disunity within BSU is simply a reflection of the entire black student population. Several organizations are under BSU — National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), Haitian Student Organization (HSA) and National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), among others. I would assume that with the strength of these organizations, along with fraternities and sororities of the National Pan-Hellenic Council at the College (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority) attendance at a BSU event wouldn’t be a problem. Then I noticed that all of these organizations have poor attendance at their events (with the exception of parties) as well. The apathy within the black student population is both sad and disappointing. But how do we change this?

On the Haitian flag it states “L’union fait la Force,” meaning there is strength through unity. And that is how we overcome the apathy within the student body, through unity. We must first start by unifying the student leaders; they must be informed on what each other’s organization is doing. All draw from the same small population of students, so there shouldn’t be four events occurring on the same night at the same time. And all the organizations must support each other. Members of NSBE should be attending events sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity should be in attendance at an NCNW event. And all the organizations should be present at events sponsored by the Black Student Union! We have been taking the mentality that if our organization isn’t co-sponsoring the event then we will not attend, and this very thought has lead to the invalidity of black organizations on this campus and the weakening of BSU.

It is not too late to save BSU and all of these organizations. It is not too late to, once again, have an influence on the politics of this campus. But we must act now. We must support each other. Black students, we must work together.

“L’union fait la Force.”