Meet the Black Student Union

By Shianna Gibbons

Black Student Union is expanding this year with more opportunities for its members and community-based involvement.

BSU is a student organization at Youngstown State University for students of all races and ethnicities to find a safe place to discuss and learn about Black culture and history, according to Vice President of BSU, Della Toliver.

“What we try to do is have a collective community of Black or non-Black students to learn about Black history and culture and then to recognize our experience as young African American individuals in higher education,” Toliver said.

Toliver is a junior nursing major, and joined BSU to find a community with a similar interest in Black culture.

“I came from a predominantly white high school and [neighborhood] so I learned about the other cultures I was around and wanted to learn about Black culture. I wanted to be able to gather with other African American individuals at YSU to talk about our history and culture and then share [that] with the Youngstown State community,” Toliver said.

Julian Johnson, the president of BSU, said the organization also hosts many fun events for students and members to build a family dynamic.

“My favorite thing about BSU is the new culture we built. We have a tight family, locker room type of atmosphere,” Julian said. “I had the luxury of my whole [executive board] coming in together. So, we became close … and built it even better than what it was before. So, we’re just trying to keep it rolling.”

BSU hosted various events throughout Welcome Week to promote the organization. Tuesday BSU tabled the Student Activities Fair, Wednesday was its weekly meeting, Thursday the organization will be at the football game and Friday will conclude with a cookout at Harrison Field.

Throughout the week, BSU collected “Back to School” items to donate to Youngstown City Schools and give back to the Youngstown community.

There is a new membership process for BSU, according to Sabrina Johnson. Sabrina is in charge of the new membership process and is also the parliamentarian for BSU. 

There is a new membership fee of $5 and a 2.0 GPA requirement. This provides internship opportunities, BSU apparel, leadership and community engagement opportunities for members.

Sabrina said she joined BSU to find a community on campus.

“It was hard for me my first year just finding a place to fit in, and I ended up joining the [executive board] for an opportunity to grow my leadership,” Sabrina said. “I would recommend coming to a meeting, feel us out and see how you like it.”

Toliver said she encourages everyone to consider getting involved with BSU so they can find a community that embraces different identities and backgrounds.

“It’s important for people to know that the experience of African American students in higher education differs. We all have our own identities, whether it’s race, religion, identity or gender identity — everyone’s experience [will] be different, especially at a predominately white institution. Not saying that’s a bad thing, just that it’s different,” Toliver said. 

Students can learn more about BSU through its Instagram @ysu.bsu or can attend its weekly Wednesday meetings at 6 p.m. in the Lariccia Room in Jones Hall