The Black Student Union Raises Awareness

The Black Student Union has entered its second year of Student Government Association recognition, but President Shana Bryce describes the group as having a history that goes back over a decade.

“We are a reincarnation of The New Black Leaders,” Shana, an UVM senior, says. The New Black Leaders were a group started in the early ’90s here on campus. The group became defunct in 1998. Shana stresses their influence upon and connection to the Black Student Union.

In the Spring of 2003, students and faculty came together to revive such a group and they soon formed the Black Student Union.

Some of the initial events that the group organized were for Black History Month and Women’s History Month.

Efforts were underway to gain SGA recognition. “It was a long process with a lot of paperwork, but professors were there and supportive, though.” Shana also describes The Center for Cultural Pluralism as well as the Office of Multiculturalism, as having worked with the group to help get it going.

In October of 2004, the Black Student Union became an SGA recognized group. Their efforts to revive a black student group had been successful. They based their constitution on that of the New Black Leaders.

The principles under which the Black Student Union operates are: Community, Respect, Advocacy, Dedication, Leadership, Equity and Scholarship.

Shana says their overall mission is to inform the UVM campus using “educational and social workshops.”

The Black Student Union meets Wednesdays at 7 pm in the ALANA Student Center. Half of their meeting is spent dealing with business, and the other half is discussion based.

The discussions consist of questions like, as Shana explained, “What is Ghetto? Who defines it? What does it mean to be black?”

An issue that surrounds the black student union is that it does not receive adequate funding because, “educational and cultural groups get less funding even though they provide more open events to campus.” Shana contrasted the money spent on something like varsity sports to that of groups like the Black Student Union.

The group has been planning for Black History Month with a theme of recognizing, “communal, fraternal and social groups.”

They will also honor Women’s History Month and the group plans to have a Kwanzaa celebration as well as a memorial for Rosa Parks.

Planning all these events is tough. “The group needs to be more institutionalized here at UVM,” Shana explains. She believes that the group needs more funding and she says they would like to see the University help out with the immense amount of work it takes to keep the group going.

With the help of the University and the continuation of the hard work that has gotten the group this far, the Black Student Union will continue to be an integral part of UVM.