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Black Student Union celebrates 45 years

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March 5, 2014

 

By Emma Cunningham

 

As another Black History Month came to a close, UW-Whitewater’s Black Student Union celebrated its 45th Anniversary on Feb. 27.

More than 100 people were in attendance in the UC Hamilton room for dinner, to hear alumni speakers, and view art displays and pictures of BSU throughout its 45 years.

Chancellor Richard Telfer said originally established in 1969 during the Civil Rights Movement, the student organization has now been around longer than many campus buildings, longer than some of our departments and longer than most of our employees.

Since 1969, BSU has strived to keep the organization alive in order to advocate African-American student success.

“We were the first generation of African-American people that were going to college, and we were trying to make a positive change among the races when hardly anything catered to our culture,” said Charles Robinson, one of the first black students to graduate from UW-W during the Civil Rights Movement and the only student representative on the curriculum committee that put together a minor of African-American Studies.

When asked if he has seen a difference in Whitewater since BSU was founded years ago, Robinson mentioned how he was the only black player on the varsity football team here at UW-Whitewater.

“I never got any write-ups or recognition based on what I did on the football field because of my color, so that has definitely changed a lot,” Robinson said.

The campus has still not escaped racial insensitivity. In November 2010, three cars that belonged to black UW-W students were parked on campus and had their tires slashed and “KKK” spray painted on the vehicles.

Junior and vice-president of BSU Dejaun Washington said BSU is a place where he can grow as a student leader.

“Throughout campus, I always quickly notice that no one looks like me,” said Washington. “But at BSU, that stuff doesn’t matter because everybody looks like you and everybody understands you. It’s more of a sense of home, especially when that kind of stuff happens.”

BSU is involved with Homecoming, Student Council, TIFU Cultural Ensemble and the Gospel Choir allowing students to grow personally and professionally.

“The biggest misconception about the Black Student Union is that you have to be black to be a part of it all, but it’s not like that,” Washington said. “Come to our events and meetings and you’re a part of us because at BSU we accept everybody.”

BSU would like to stress that just because Black History Month is over does not mean they won’t still be celebrating 45 years.

On April 1-14, an exhibit will be displayed in Roberta’s Art Gallery honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy with donated artifacts from students, faculty, staff and alumni.

For more information on UW-W’s Black Student Union, follow them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook @uwwbsu or by emailing [email protected]

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Black Student Union celebrates 45 years