The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

“I definitely found my people through BSU,” Club Close Up: Black Student Unity

BSU members from left to right: Alex White, Joshua Wines, Maliyah Norwood, Hailey Schock. Photo taken by Sophie Miller.

Black Student Unity (BSU) is one of eight Multicultural Student Organizations at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. As stated on their UWL MyOrgs page, the purpose of BSU is to promote and establish a level of comfort and unity among students, as well as provide multicultural awareness to our campus community; to promote awareness of local, national, and global issues through a variety of formats, and to foster the survival, success and development of students.  

BSU President Alex White (he/him), Vice President Hailey Schock (she/her), Diversity Organizational Coalition Maliyah Norwood (she/her) and Events Coordinator and Community Liaison Joshua Wines (he/him) sat down with The Racquet Press to share their opinions and experiences on campus as students of color, as well as highlight the work BSU is doing.  

“I definitely found my people through BSU,” Schock said.  

BSU hosts weekly meetings from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays in Centennial Hall Room 2313. BSU welcomes all students to attend their meetings and events to learn more about black culture and to find community and support.  

“We love seeing students of all cultures come to the meetings because even though it’s interesting to see Black perspectives, it’s also interesting to see non-black perspectives and we appreciate those perspectives,” said Wines. “Not only do we appreciate the perspectives, but we appreciate the support from other cultures coming to our meetings.”   

BSU hosts a variety of events throughout the year to try and reach all members of the community. One of BSU’s longeststanding events is Reflections of Ebony. The Racquet Press will cover this year’s Reflections of Ebony, hosted on Feb. 18 in the Bluffs Ballroom in the Student Union from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.  

Reflections of Ebony 2024 will have award-winning filmmaker, photographer, author, activist and public speaker, St. Clair Detrick-Jules as its keynote speaker this year. St. Clair grounds her work in radical love, joy and the knowledge that a more just world is possible.  

Along with its keynote speaker, the event will also celebrate BSU’s student and faculty accomplishments throughout the year. During the event, the club’s graduating seniors will be celebrated, and BSU members will recap the year’s events with live music and soul food.  

Reflections of Ebony is a chance for students to dress up, enjoy soul food and celebrate Black excellence. “It’s just an event for everybody to come together, ” Norwood said.  

The BSU members shared their experiences as Black students at a predominantly white institution (PWI) like UWL. “I have never felt more uncomfortable in a classroom until I came to UWL,” said Schock. 

Schock pointed out the lack of diversity on campus, specifically within the academic faculty. “There are just a lot of confusing identity issues with not having a professor to look at and feel comfortable around,” said Schock. 

Wines shared similar thoughts. “More Black professors would create a more welcoming environment in the classroom,” he said.  

Being a member of a PWI, Black students encounter some uncomfortable experiences. Schock described it as the looks she gets from her peers. “The stares you get from everybody around you and the pressure to feel like you have to do good because everyone expects you to,” she said. 

Wines’s uncomfortable experience also comes from his peers. He said, “A lot of the discomfort I feel came a lot from the students on campus, at least in my personal experience. I would walk into a class and if I’m there early and sit down in the middle of the class, no one will sit by me.”   

BSU offers a safe environment for all students to share their experiences on campus and to find community with one another. “It’s a place where you can feel comfortable, even if you’re not Black,” said White.  

BSU is open to all students and anyone interested is encouraged to attend a meeting or event. “We’re trying to build a community,” said Wines. “You will never be alone as long as you’re a part of BSU.”

The Reflections of Ebony event will be from 5  to 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb.18, in the Bluffs Student Union. Tickets are available at the Student Union front desk or online and are $5 but will increase by $2 on the day of the event.

BSU will also be hosting a fundraiser from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, in collaboration with the La Crosse Qdoba. You can scan this QR Code to place your orders and 25% of all sales will be donated to BSU. 

Profits from both events will go towards planning future programs and events. You can find more information about BSU and any upcoming events and meetings on their Instagram page @uwl_bsu. 

If students are interested in joining or learning more about BSU, they can attend any of the weekly meetings or events. Students can also reach out to the BSU president, Alex White, at [email protected] or the vice president, Hailey Schock, at [email protected]. 

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About the Contributor
Sophie Miller
Sophie Miller, Social Justice Reporter
  • Year at UWL: Senior
  • PGPs: She/Her/Hers
  • Hometown: Prairie du Chien, WI
  • Major: Dual Major in Political Science & Communication Studies with a Public Communication and Advocacy Emphasis
  • Minor: Social Justice Minor
  • Other Campus Involvement: Intern in the Financial Aid Office
  • Future Plans after Graduation: Attend Graduate School
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Going to Pettibone Beach
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