For all of its programs, conversations, and talk of diversity and inclusion on campus, Springfield College has been missing an integral part of its journey to anti-racism: providing students with a place where they feel comfortable to express themselves and experiences they have had as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).
This year, Senior Suraji Omoru has set out to do just that – create a club, welcome to any student of any color (including non-BIPOC), that supports students emotionally, academically, socially, and most importantly, promotes Black Excellence. This club is more commonly known as a Black Student Union.
The idea of a Black Student Union is not new. Colleges, universities, and even elementary and secondary education schools across the country have had the organization already in place for decades.
However, Springfield College is the last school in the area to have an official Black Student Union club, and Omoru is more than excited to begin the work the campus is in dire need of.
“I just really want the Springfield College community to know that as students, with the Black Student Union on campus, our aim is to push for people to feel safe, people to feel supported,” said Omoru.
“Not only that, but as students we have to step up and do the same… what the Black Student Union is aiming to do is make it feel like we’re one big family, and that’s something that a lot of students of color haven’t felt over the years. They’ve felt kind of… not exiled, but just separate, in terms of emotions and physically, and that’s something we are pushing for along with tangible change.”
However, the Black Student Union will not only be a safe-haven for all; they have a list of initiatives to accomplish as a club to further their mission. These initiatives will include topics related to struggles Black people must face every single day of their life; specifically, Omoru stated, struggles with both Public Safety and the modern-day healthcare system.
“We’re focusing on our Public Safety initiative, which is Public Safety reform, including sensitivity trainings, things on implicit bias, and not only that but introducing times when students and Public Safety can sit down together [as a way to] develop a way better relationship,” said Omoru. “Not only that, but we want to do things to address inequity within healthcare since we’re such a big healthcare school and have so many PT, PA’s and OT’s… bring them in and show them what it’s like in healthcare from a Black or POC’s standpoint.”
As stated before, students can be of any race to join the Black Student Union. Omoru stressed that BSU is looking for support from “every walk of life” in order to create real change. By allowing students from all races to join, BSU is inviting every Springfield College student to fight for the change they want to see on campus and in the world.
The Black Student Union also comes at a time that is reflective of today’s society. The Black Lives Matter movement is driven by a need for anti-racism and equality woven into every part of life. Omoru said that he hopes BSU at Springfield College will have similar connotations and effects.
Omoru stated, “Our club really wants to push for change on campus but not only change in the eyes of people and what people see that we’re doing, but really behind the doors– behind-door change is what we want. We want people to go home and actually feel that they’re living ethically right, actually know that they’re doing ethically right things to promote change in society.
“We see so many wrong things that are being done, so many wrongdoings in terms of police activity, police brutality, things of that nature- it starts at home, and that’s what we really want to target and what we want to change and I feel like we can.”
As far as what meetings will actually contain, Omoru said that each session will be a discussion and planning time for programs, events, etc. that the club wants to pursue. It will also be an opportunity for BIPOC students to talk about what’s bothering them right now and what the concrete fix will be.
“The meetings will always be talking about different initiatives we’re going through, different committees we’re going to have for people to be on in terms of Public Safety reform, whether we’re talking about inequity within healthcare, how climate change can affect marginalized groups… We’ll be having all different events and placing people into separate groups to be able to help and support at these events,” said Omoru.
“We’ll also be going through what it’s like every single week for each individual member or how they’re dealing with stressors, because being a Black student in everyday life can also be very tough, so something we want to do is destress people and give them a place to feel like they can be themselves. On a campus where it can be predominantly white, a lot of the time as a Black individual, it can be hard to just be yourself,” added Omoru.
Meetings for the Black Student Union will be held over Zoom every Monday at 8 p.m. The links to meetings can be found on the BSU Instagram page, @bsuatsc, along with more important information about the club and a full staff lineup. Every Springfield College student is welcome to join.
Photo: BSU Instagram