Black Student Union members faced mixed reactions of apprehension and acceptance as they received club recognition at the Augustana Student Association this last Tuesday.
BSU vice president Montrell Moore said the club will encourage black students to be unified and provide a space of their own. As the club becomes more established, it plans to include non-black students and encourage communication on campus.
“I have friends who are thinking about leaving Augustana because they don’t feel accepted,” said BSU secretary Syd Capers. “We want to promote acceptance.”
BSU president Malik Sanders said Thirty-two students were in attendance at BSU’s third meeting last Thursday, and he expects 40 to 60 students in attendance as awareness of the club grows. Meetings are held in Room 202 of the Madsen Center every Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Sanders noted that February is Black History Month and when the executive board plans to open the club to the entire campus.
Senior senator Matthew Moe questioned if the club would be exclusionary and counter-productive to its purpose if it was not immediately open to non-black students.
ASA President Anna Stritecky said the club’s constitution includes a nondiscrimination policy as mandatory in all university club constitutions.
However, acting Dean of Students Mark Blackburn said a three month grace period when non-black students are asked not to attend would serve as an “establishing period.”
Blackburn also stressed that under the nondiscrimination policy, all students would be able to join the club but it was requested that they not attend meetings until February.
Junior senator Luca Amayo, who has worked with Sanders to develop the club, said that the reason for not immediately opening the club will increase confidence for students who feel marginalized on campus.
“The confidence level as these students are feeling under-represented [at Augie] gives them all the opportunities [to succeed as a club],” Blackburn said. “For the first couple of months, there’ll be a grace period for them to build that.”
Senior senator Josh Barrows said that he is in favor of the club and interested in joining, but will be respectful of the grace period requested by BSU executive members.
Sophomore senator Audrey Cope moved to approve the club, and the motion passed 26-1-1.
Augie can get pretty cliquey, Moore said. “College should be about getting experience and meeting people that are different from your hometown, and at Augie that can be kind of difficult.”