Black students find community through Black Student Union

Breanna Palmer, sophomore in mass communications, is working on a podcast mini-series dedicated to Black history, influence and culture in Manhattan and surrounding areas. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

For over 50 years, Kansas State’s Black Student Union has provided Black students on campus a place to meet and interact with other Black students and embrace their culture and accomplishments. Students express a few reasons why having an organization like Black Student Union or BSU is important in a predominantly white institution.

Camden Mayfield, senior in mechanical engineering and leadership studies, is the support team director of BSU and explains not only the historical significance of BSU on campus but also the community and space BSU offers to Black students.

“You have a lot of times, Black students, they have to code switch, and they have to try to blend in like a chameleon as being on a predominantly white institution,” Mayfield said. “BSU provides a space where you can be unapologetically Black, and that’s something I really appreciate.”

Christopher Burrell, senior in mechanical engineering and leadership studies, said that during his time at K-State, BSU has always been a place where Black students felt motivated and pushed to be the best versions of themselves.

“I would say BSU’s importance is quite honestly priceless on the campus of Kansas State University, especially with it being a predominantly white institution, it stands for a lot of things,” Burrell said. “It stands for hope, it stands for prosperity and it stands for really just Black excellence.”

Both Mayfield and Burrell hold positions on the BSU executive board and expressed the importance and community BSU has created for the Black community on campus. However, it is not just the meetings that bring Black students together. Throughout each semester, BSU holds various events for Black students and community members to come together and celebrate black excellence.

The most known and popular event is the BSU barbecue. Sarah Weekes, senior in animal science pre-vet, shared one of her favorite BSU moments at the beginning of the fall semester at the barbecue.

“It’s when all the different sororities and fraternities get together you see people that come out that aren’t even a part of BSU, but they’re Black … It’s just music, food and it’s always a good time,” Weekes said.

Burrell also attended the event and said he expressed the same joy and memory of the BSU barbecue.

“It’s a time of community and a space to get connected with other organizations as a Black student at K-State,” Burrell said.

The Black Student Union holds a special place for many Black students on campus, allowing them not only to meet and create friendships with other Black students but also provides them a place to collaborate and make connections as K-State students. More information about the Black Student Union is available through the organization’s website.