The BSU forum sparks discussion

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An open forum on campus, My Black America, brought exposure to the Black Student Union.

The event served to open the discussion about different issues within the African American community.

“BSU stands for Black Student Union, and it caters mostly to minority students, predominantly black students,” junior Jessica Thompson said. “We’re still growing and making baby steps, but we’re getting there.”

The BSU commemorated Black History Month with an open-mike night.

They also went to local elementary schools to teach students about African American inventors and to do arts and crafts.

“We were brainstorming ideas and thinking about what we could do for Black History Month,” Thompson said. “Eventually, we decided that it would be a good idea to have a panel of prominent blacks in the community. We looked at BSU at UCO to see what they were doing, and we followed their format.”

The forum had five members: Wendell Edwards, a news anchor; Grant Long, an Oklahoma City Thunder TV personality; Gary Jones, multicultural and service learning coordinator for Oklahoma Christian; Monica Brook, Human Resources Director for Cowboys Stadium and Candace Owens, an admissions recruiter for Oklahoma Christian University.

The topics and questions for the night ranged from the political correctness of the term ‘African American’ to how to make first-generation college students into first-generation graduates.

The panel also took time to discuss the topic of students – not just minority students – getting out of school and moving into the professional world.

“Our culture pushes college, but once we get out they leave us hanging,” senior CJ Swanson said. “You hear about how there are no jobs, but there are, so many people just don’t know where to go.”

But according to Edwards, it is up to the student to get out and make connections. He said students need to take the initiative to call and set up a time to meet with the people in careers that they are interested in.

“You can’t have excuses if you want to get somewhere,” Edwards said. “Yes, statistics say that students won’t make it, but that’s not the point. I do understand it is scary out there, but you can sell yourself more than anyone else, and you can’t be afraid to go and find people who are in the field and getting with them.”

Another big topic was the idea that celebrities have a social responsibility to give back to the community.

One of the points made was that a person doesn’t have to be wealthy to give back.

“I’m not rich and famous, but I give what I can,” Edwards said. “I give as much of my skills and talents and my time that I can. I do think that you have an obligation to your family, but as a Christian, we’re supposed to give anyway. If you aren’t giving your share, the Bible I read says you’re wrong.”

One final topic was education, particularly getting kids to go to school and have an interest in it.

“I say this all the time: ‘Education may be expensive, but ignorance will leave you poor,’” Edwards said. “School may not be someone’s thing, but there’s something out there that everyone can connect to, whether it’s being a chef or a mechanic or a nurse.”

Thompson also said she thought that My Black America assisted in promoting BSU.

“I think the forum went really well,” Thompson said. “I was really glad to see the [school] president there, as well as the dean and one of the chairs of OC. There was a great discussion and great topics. I hope that this will lead to more members and more people being interested in BSU. We can only go up from here.”

The BSU meets every other Thursday night for Bible study.

Thompson also said the goal is to provide a more gender-specific, smaller group to teach men and women how to carry themselves.

They also hold BSU chapel in Scott Chapel every other Thursday.

Everyone is welcome to attend BSU chapel.

“I hope that BSU grows and that we see more active members coming and participating,” Thompson said. “I want people to look at us as a group that looks out for minority students and helps them out. I also want us to get together with our sister schools that have this program.”

Thompson said that students who aren’t in the minority are more than welcome to join BSU and participate in their events.

“We want people to get involved regardless of the color of their skin,” Thompson said. “We’re open to suggestions and everyone is welcome to join us. I’m sure people have tons of ideas, and we’re more than willing to listen.”

 

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