The Black Student Union at the University of New Mexico is reaching its 50th year as a student organization on campus.
Since becoming chartered in 1968, the union has evolved into a growing group of driven African-American students on campus who would like to continue to see their numbers grow in terms of participation within the African-American community on campus.
“The Black Student Union essentially becomes that cultural space and network that is lacking by not having a substantial African-American community on campus; it is essentially that space for us to come together and represent ourselves,” said Wade Rogers, the president of BSU.
The BSU at UNM is welcoming to all African-American students on campus, and is appreciative of new faces that come through the union, Rogers said. The union gathers on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. in the African-American Student Services Lounge to discuss current events, political climate, black culture and much more.
“We talk about things that you’re not going hear in any other space on campus. No one else is going to talk about Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland — the Black Student Union cares about those topics,” said Dannelle Kirven, Vice President of BSU. “No one else is going to talk about prison incarceration rates, criminalization and stereotypes.”
In addition to the discussion of important topics surrounding the African-American people in America, BSU offers a space to have fun with fellow members. Students in BSU watch movies, play games and take part in other activities to create a positive space for those who are a part of the community.
Along with the club meetings, BSU participates in the Black Culture Conference annually. The conference expands on the shared goal that BSU has to equip black students and the African-American community in New Mexico with the means to speak about topics that they wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable talking about in other spaces.
“This is a place where you’re not rendered, you’re not marginalized,” said Rogers.
BSU can provide a safe space for African-American students to be around other members of the African-American community, and share their experiences and thoughts about whatever may arise.
“You’re going to be around people who care about issues you care about, and are for the same goal — which is promoting and uplifting your people and trying to push against the oppression and microaggressions that we face on this campus,” said Dannelle Kirven, Vice President of BSU. “It’s not always easy to speak out or find ways to resist in a way that you feel will enact change.”
BSU encourages black students on campus to explore the BSU presence at UNM, to know that the union can offer a collaborative and positive space, and to join them in furthering their educations while being there for one another.
Macey Rose is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maceyrae9.