The Black Student Union (BSU) is an organization created in 2016 to educate, enlighten, entertain and unite the students at Simpson College through programs that promote the Black student body and allies. This organization takes safe and respectful action to take charge of the future by dismantling negative and harmful stereotypes.
BSU has several events that go on year-round. The most recent event was trivia night last Friday that the BSU co-hosted with the Campus Activity Board as well as the annual die-in on Feb. 17.
The Die-in is an annual silent protest that started in 2016 where students lay on the floor in silence to raise awareness for police brutality.
Junior Pascasie Redhage is the BSU vice-president and encourages everyone to come to the traditional die-in.
“We play music, and we bring educational signs. You don’t have to stay there the whole time, but any support is appreciated,” Redhage said.
BSU has a new program that supports Black businesses. Each month the BSU holds an event to hand out products from Black businesses, mostly local.
On Feb. 26, BSU will host a bingo event co-sponsored with the Multicultural Affairs Department. The bingo night will be Black History Month-themed and is open to all students. Prizes that will come from a local Black business will be handed out each round.
Last semester the BSU started a book club on the app Discord. They read books about Blackness, feminism, history and LGBTQ+ issues.
“It is open to everyone, whether you have no knowledge of issues like these or you are a self-proclaimed expert. We aim to engage in meaningful discussions on the issues talked about in the books we read and educate people in the process,” Redhage said.
BSU will be co-sponsoring the author Michelle Duster the great-granddaughter of Ida B Wells’s virtual book talk on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.
For February, the book is “Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology by Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens.”
“We are in talks to have author Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens come to campus in March. We have some more stuff that is in the works now but isn’t ready to be publicized just yet, but know it’s going to be amazing,” Redhage said.
Senior Taylor Williams has been working on a specific project since her freshman year at Simpson. Williams is the president of the BSU.
An important project that BSU has been working on is a bias response team. The team will focus on bias-related incidents and help protect and provide security for students on campus. Williams is hoping this project will help keep track of racial incidents on campus and give students someone to talk to that understands the trauma that occurs when these situations arise.
“This is a project that has been on my mind since my freshman year here at Simpson. I noticed the need almost immediately. This team would function similarly to SARA but be focused on bias-related incidents for the minority students on campus,” Williams said.
BSU has also worked on creating the Simpson College Black Alumni Association.
This new project was started by Emili Radke, the Assistant Director of Admissions at Simpson. This program is to create a network of Black alumni to support current people of color on campus. This network will allow colored students to have another resource for support from previous students who have experienced similar things.
BSU has been recently making sure that the demands made after the racial incident earlier this year are met and is coming up with a program to hopefully help the Indianola School District create their own organization to help with racism and bullying in the community.
Members of the BSU are grateful for their experience in the program and want more people to join.
“BSU is open to all students, whether you are a Black person, a POC, or white. We are just a community that wants to share our experiences and culture and educate those who might not know about us. Everyone is welcome, and you can email me [email protected]simpson.edu to get on our email list,” Redhage said.
Senior Enrique Idehan says that being in the BSU has helped gain his sense of acceptance.
“I have gained a sense of acceptance being in BSU. There are not many people of color on campus, so it’s good to see people who look like me. My favorite thing about BSU is the inclusiveness of the group. It’s a safe space for people of color to voice their opinions,” Idehen said.