The Black Student Union (BSU) at Cal Poly Humboldt (CPH) is getting revitalized. While acting unofficially for now, the club remains a central place of community for many Black students at CPH.
BSU was founded in the 1970s and has been a part of CPH’s history for many decades. According to CPH’s 2022 Fall Census Headcount by Ethnicity, Black students make up only three percent of the total student demographic. Students and faculty expressed how important the sense of community and representation facilitated by the club has been.
“Really at the heart of getting this club going again, it started from having and developing authentic connections with students and identifying students who see and understand the value in BSU,” said Douglas Smith, coordinator of the Umoja Center for Pan African Student Excellence and mentor to the BSU students.
Currently, a few dozen students are already unofficially participating and many more have reportedly dropped in to express interest in joining. Future intentions of the club, such as events, will be centered around bringing the club together with Black students, the whole campus community and local organizations.
“Right now, we’re just in the process of figuring out how to bring the students together and who do we reach out to in the community,” said Michael Steelman, president of the BSU and sophomore studying Critical Race Gender and Sexuality (CRGS).
Steelman expressed how the club was and continues to be, a predominant reason why he initially feels comfortable at the university and continues to study here.
“Like you don’t see that many colorful people here. Where do I fit in? How can I fit in?” said Honey De ’Lite, vice president of the BSU, a freshman majoring in child development, teaching and CRGS with a minor in criminology. When she found out CPH did not have a BSU club, she took the initiative to get it started again.
Through BSU, De’Lite has been introduced to other areas of interest such as the funding board, which has allowed her to create more events and resources for the club. She has a deep passion for inspiring other students to get involved and to speak out in the local Black community.
“There is a rich history here of Black Student Union,” said Harrel Deshazier, advisor for the BSU. “They were organizing Black graduations. Doing different concerts and I often tell the officers there’s a lot of things you can do to make sure that you have a space here on campus.”
BSU is currently unofficial, but official meetings will begin to commence in the coming weeks, with details available on the CPH website under clubs and organizations.
“It says BSU. That doesn’t mean it needs to be just Black students participating and helping with events or even coming to events. We want all folks to be involved,” Deshazier said. “As a White person, it’s important to take a backseat, listen and assist when asked. But in general, I want White students and students who are non-Black to feel comfortable joining our events because as a Black person, I want to feel comfortable joining other events that aren’t Black centered.”
For more information, check out their website at humboldt.presence.io/organization/black-student-union.