BSU helps students express themselves among like minded individuals

Cam'ron Hardy, News Editor

Black Student Union hosts various events throughout the year like Battle of The Aux, where teams compete against each other by singing and dancing to songs. 

Before coming to Eastern at the beginning of the Fall 2022-2023 semester and becoming the vice president of the Black Student Union, BSU, RJ Shields, a senior criminal justice major, was the social events chair for the BSU at his previous school, Lincoln College in Lincoln, Ill.

Shields said his previous school was shut down last May due to a low population after COIVD-19. He said the school already had a small population, with only about 800-1000 students, with about 90 percent Black students.

One of the events that he assisted with at his previous school was a throwback karaoke style event, they had guests come in and talk about different outlets, and they obtained help from Divine Nine Fraternities and Sororities and faculty members with planning and setting up events.

“BSU is something that I feel is important in college in general because college is a place where you go make lifelong friends and things like that, and BSU can help you have an outlet,” Shields said. “You can actually talk about certain issues and things like that that a lot of people might be uncomfortable [with].”

Shields also said that being in BSU gives people the freedom to just express themselves.

Shields said the transition from Lincoln to Eastern was pretty smooth except the part of being at a more diverse campus, but said it was not too bad.

With being vice president of BSU, he is part of the executive board amongst other members, who Shields said are “a great group of people to be around.”

Shields said that the last meeting had around 30 people in attendance, but a lot of people signed up to be involved in BSU at Pantherpalooza. He also said that more people are excited about the meetings.

Shields said the meetings are a combination of both formal and informal.

He said that there are some laid-back conversations pertaining to different issues in America, including the recent Martin Luther King Jr. statue that was unveiled in Boston.

Other times, the conversations have to be formal when members are planning and organizing events.

One of Shields’ main goals is to get BSU as big as it once was.

“One of the biggest challenges for us, as a part of the executive board, is trying to incorporate and get more engagement from people,” Shields said.

Even though Shields has not been at Eastern his entire college career, he said he has been informed about all of the excitement that was once present.

He wants to find more people to be a part of the organization, so they can spread the word about events that come up and that people can speak highly about it.

Shields has been a part of BSU for a long time and said he just wants to have his voice expressed.

“I just like to have a voice and be able to voice my opinion on a lot of stuff, just to help is the overall goal,” Shields said. “…I felt like I just wanted to help because they were talking about how the numbers for BSU were dwindling down over the past couple of years,” Shields said. “… I just wanted to help get it back to that type of glory because it’s not that represented on this campus anymore, for at my eyes looking on the outside.”

Shields is still considering helping out BSU after graduation because he still wants to “bloom.”

“Come out and support BSU, just to get it back to the days of glory and to keep the campus together,” Shields said.

BSU has some events this month to celebrate Black History including a Black History Month bingo on Thursday. Students will have the chance to win over $250 worth of prizes. The event will take place in Thomas Dining Center from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.


Cam’ron Hardy can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].