Black Student Union raises cultural awareness among students

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Oklahoma Christian University takes pride in the many cultures students represent on campus, as seen through the multiple campus organizations focused on the care and celebration of those students who participate in the associations. The Black Student Union (BSU) emphasizes these goals by serving as a “safe haven” for students of other cultures.

“BSU is an organization on campus to provide a community within a community,” BSU president Te’ara Hedgemon said. “People can come together and push one another to be better and do better and serve as a bridge between cultures.”

With meetings taking place every other Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., Hedgemon said she wants to make students aware of BSU and the impact they are working to have on campus.

“Right now, we’re in the process of having meetings to tell people that we do exist,” Hedgemon said. “We talk about events, bridge different gaps we may have here and display our cultures and what we’re about. Also, we get together and build relationships. It’s kind of just like one of the social clubs that we have here on campus. We have activities where we just go bowling or have a cookout, but we also have other events like town halls or poetry nights.”

After transferring to Oklahoma Christian, Hedgemon said BSU is something she is proud of and has made her feel more at home here on campus. She said she hopes to leave a legacy of her time in the BSU after she graduates.

“My goal, personally, is to just have a place for people,” Hedgemon said. “I think that’s important, because a lot of people come here and its like, ‘OC is home,’ and that’s great, but even in your home, everything has its place. People should have a spot where they feel they belong. We’re just trying to lay a foundation for different things; when you lay a foundation, it’s not just for you but for the people that come after you.”

BSU sponsor Gary Jones said he takes pride in the students who are BSU members and works with the organization to instill core values in its members. Jones said he wants the study body to understand BSU is open to anyone interested in joining.

“BSU has five pillars we base everything around: unity, tolerance, excellence, empowerment and evolution,” Jones said. “Although its focus is to provide a voice for students of color, it’s open to anybody. I want people to know that the more people who are involved around campus, the louder that voice gets. We’ve had several non-black students a part of BSU. In fact, the first vice president was a white man. Anyone who is devoted to those five principles can be a part. It’s for anybody and everybody.”

Jones said he is proud of the hard work BSU members have given to bring the organization to its current success.

“We’re excited about working with a lot of our international student organizations,” Jones said. “It kind of gives us an opportunity to merge together and have more opportunities. We now have members who are presidential scholars, who are involved with SGA, and we are starting to have roots around campus. If there’s one thing I want people to know it’s that members of the BSU are people. We’re very much about people and not politics. It’s easy to see politics and not people.”

According to junior Racquelle Idlebird, the organization is geared toward anyone who wants to experience cultural aspects of the black community, and is interested in learning how to navigate hard conversations.

“When people see BSU, we want all of them to know they can be a part of it,” Idlebird said. “Having those relationships, where we can talk things out, create an environment where we just have a good time. All of us together, not just black students, not just Hispanics, not just Whites; I feel like it can happen.”

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