The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

BSU aims to unite on-campus community

Ashanti Thomas
EIU’s Black Student Union hosts “What’s the Scoop?,” a free ice cream and bowling social in the bowling alley of Martin Luther King Jr. University Union Monday night

The transition from a school or neighborhood full of people who look just like you to a PWI, predominantly white institution, in a rural town can be difficult and a bit of a culture shock for African American and other minority students. The need for community and human interaction from someone of a similar walk of life is crucial in making one feel safe within their surroundings.  

That is where the Black Student Union comes into the picture 

Black Student Union is a passionate organization on Eastern’s campus whose main goal is to promote and advocate for Black students on campus, create a safe space for them and build a community.  

“I feel like going to a PWI sometimes in our classes, we’re misrepresented, we really don’t see each other that much,” said Vice President Hannah Lawrence, a junior nursing major. “When we all come to BSU that’s when you see the people that you don’t always see all the time, and it’s really good to meet other Black students on campus.”  

BSU meets regularly on Mondays at 6 p.m. in the Charleston-Mattoon room on the top floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union. During the meetings, members and students come and talk about Black issues, culture, history, life and the Black experience.  

To become an active member there is a $10 fee for a semester and a $20 fee for the entire school year. Both charges come with a BSU t-shirt, free entry to all BSU events and participation in members-only events like Miss Black EIU.  

Although the organization is titled “Black Student Union” it is not just for Black students. BSU is an all-inclusive student organization that is accepting of everyone. The goal may be to center Black students, but anyone willing to listen or learn about the Black experience is more than welcome.  

All the executive board members are sophomores and above and most of the members wish they knew about the Black Student Union or something like this their freshman year.  

BSU President Ashley Mickens is one of the board members who joined after her freshman year and naturally found a home.

“I was like, ‘Oh I wanna get involved with campus’ so I joined BSU,” Mickens said. “I was just a regular member who, you know, just watched the meetings, didn’t say nothing. Now I’m president today, so it’s like kinda ironic.” 

“BSU made an impact on me, so I wanna do the same thing for other students on campus,” said Mickens. “Just showing them that it’s a place for them here and there are different ways to get involved and meet new friends, especially now since we have a bigger freshman class.”  

Due to the hardships they faced as incoming freshmen, the BSU executive board’s plan for this school year is to be loud and proud and highlight themselves as a reliable resource and safe haven for first-year students and anyone else who needs it.

That’s where their “Welcome Black Bash Union Party” comes in.  

They had the event Friday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the University Ballroom inside the Union. The date, time, and location for the event were not a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing either, the executive board has been planning this since late April.  

Zoom meetings over the summer, venue reservation, catering, the DJ and all the other vital details down to what color balloons will be used, were all planned out thoroughly by the new and old executive board as well as student life officers Ariel Taylor and Ceci Brinker.

All the time and preparation were put into effect to make sure there were no hiccups when the group made its debut.  

BSU was originally founded on Eastern’s campus in 1967 but as time went on, especially with the rise of Covid-19, their impact on campus and number of members began to dwindle.  

Parliamentarian Shay Edmond explained why this event means so much to BSU this school year.  

“When I joined my sophomore year in 2021, I noticed a decline in BSU,” Edmond said. “We’ve lost a lot of members, we also lost our entire [executive board] at one point in time. So for us, kind of like starting from the bottom and like building our foundation again, tonight is important to us because we wanna show everyone how much we want everyone to come together as one, we also want people to know we’re all here, there’s somewhere for you.”

Due to some bumps along the road, the new BSU executive board has made it their mission to start the school year off with a bang and reintroduce themselves to the school with their Welcome Black Bash Union Party  

The overall purpose of the 90s-themed event was to bring students together and give them a safe space to relax, have fun, mix & mingle and enjoy themselves as a reward for getting through the first week of classes.  

“I really believe that students deserve to have a break. I believe this [event] can allow them to go out, get out of their comfort zone, have fun, get to meet new peers and listen to some great music,” said Secretary Terrell Steele. “I mean, who [doesn’t] like nineties music?” 

The night had music, a live performance from the African Student Association dance team Essence, free popcorn and refreshments, a photo booth and a place for everyone to connect.  

BSU member Naomi Wright-Allen was in great spirits tonight eager to chitchat and show off some dance moves. “I’m a Black student and we unite here,” she said. “So far, my favorite part of the night has been seeing the unity and the people dancing.”  

It may have had a slow start, but as the night went on, the feeling of stress-free fun was in the air as students began to loosen up and truly interact with one another. The University Ballroom began to fill with people, conversations, laughter and group dancing when songs like The Cupid Shuffle or The Wobble came on.  

“My favorite part was the Turbo Slide because I killed it,” said Senior Tattiana Stinger.  

As the night came to a close and people began to head home, the see you later hugs and smiling faces carrying bags of popcorn encapsulated BSU’s goal for the night of starting the year off right and showing students that they have a place to call home.  

“I hope we can see how this event goes and use that outcome to plan for the future,” said BSU Treasurer Kemal Dodd.


 Alexis Moore-Jones can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]


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About the Contributors
Alexis Moore-Jones
Alexis Moore-Jones, Feature Reporter
Alexis Moore-Jones is a senior broadcast journalism major. This is her first year at The News.
Ashanti Thomas
Ashanti Thomas, Photographer
Ashanti Thomas is a senior digital media major. She previously served as photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.

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