K-State’s Black Student Union voted best in the Big 12

(Photo Courtesy of Brandon Clark)

“Make the movement matter.”

That is the lesson the Kansas State Black Student Union took away from the 40th annual Big 12 Conference on Black Student Government at the University of Texas in Austin this past weekend, adviser Brandon Clark said.

For the ninth time in 12 years, the K-State BSU won the award for the Most Outstanding Black Student Union in the Big 12, a continued tradition of success that Clark said is due to high standards at K-State.

“It speaks to the strength of our BSU that they do some outstanding programming, and they do it year after year,” Clark said. “There’s no bias either, because the award is decided by fellow peers at other Big 12 institutions. K-State’s BSU is very strong, and continues to serve as a strong example of black student government in the Big 12.”

While the award is presented at the spring conference, the judging process begins during the fall semester. Delegates from Big 12 black student government organizations put together a book highlighting the events and programs that their respective organizations host and also give a presentation to other delegates about their work.

“From November of 2015 to November of 2016, our delegates report on all the activities our BSU has done,” Clark said. “That includes our Black History Month activities, our academic initiatives, the banquets, the Kwanzaa celebration, any speakers who come in and professional development. All of that goes into this book and the presentation they give.”

Clark said the consistent success is also due to the effort that the BSU puts into its presentation.

“The award is based on quite a few things but primarily based on what our Big 12 delegates give to the council,” Clark said. “They put on an outstanding presentation on all of the work that our BSU does over the past year. They really articulate what we do well. Our BSU really understands our mission and knows what our BSU is supposed to be doing, and we stick to that mission.”

Bryan Davis, president of the BSU and junior in information management systems, said K-State BSU’s success is due to the people within the organization.

“I think we’ve been so successful because we have great student leaders and great advisers,” Davis said. “We have a strong will to impact our community and move K-State forward. That is what gets recognized.”

The K-State BSU sent 23 students to the conference, where in addition to the award for overall excellence, the BSU also won the award for the Most Outstanding Freshman Action Team. Alexis Cushshon, president of the K-State BSU Freshman Action Team and freshman in architectural engineering, was also awarded the Mickey Leland award for community service and campus involvement, an award which freshman rarely win.

At the convention, the K-State delegation attended workshops and discussions on issues that black student organizations across the Big 12 face.

“Some of the issues can cross a variety of topics,” Clark said. “Some are more serious, such as not having enough black students participating in student government, or how to get more blacks on campus to apply for graduate school. The educational component is there, but we also talk about things like dating strategies and greek life or how to become a more well-rounded student.”

The delegates then apply what they learned at the conference to their campus involvements, Clark said.

“They take that information and bring it back to their campuses for students that maybe weren’t able to go to the conference,” Clark said. “They talk about those strategies they learned, and they can then empower their fellow students.”

Cushshon said she learned how to look at job and internship opportunities at the conference.

“I realized when looking at internships and jobs to evaluate companies’ diversity programs and retention rate, among other things as well,” Cushshon said. “I can get people aware of how to evaluate companies when looking at internships, which is really key to provide a successful internship.”

Davis said the conference reinforced his commitment to the BSU mission.

“Something I took away personally was the need to be strong in your mission,” Davis said. “All we do should support what our BSU mission is. The Black Student Union focuses on creating leaders, and we try to reiterate the importance of being involved at a community level and what that entails. Sometimes you may feel alone, but as a member of BSU, it’s your duty to go out and move your community.”

I'm Rafael Garcia, and I'm a 2019 K-State graduate in journalism and former editor-in-chief of the K-State Collegian. I believe that much of the world's problems come from a lack of understanding of other people, but by telling other people's stories and finding the good in the world, I think we can increase our understanding and appreciation of each other. Questions, comments, concerns, news tips? Email the Collegian team at news@kstatecollegian.com.