Club Spotlight: Black Student Union

On tap for this semester: movie night, Soul Food Sunday, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America outreach.

BSU members (first row, left to right) Destinee Lott, DeShaunda Bennett ’18, Rayshaun Wagner ’17, Robert Whetstone, Brandon Johnson ’18, (second row, left to right) Vernisha Andrews ’19, Angel Whetstone ’16, Tanaya Jones ’17, Kasey Drayton ’17, (third row, left to right) Ashley Williams ’18, Kyaira Banks ’19, Eric Cilencier ’17, Dominique Willis ’17, and Roderick Zak ’19. (Photos by Scott Cook) BSU members (first row, left to right) Destinee Lott, DeShaunda Bennett ’18, Rayshaun Wagner ’17, Robert Whetstone, Brandon Johnson ’18, (second row, left to right) Vernisha Andrews ’19, Angel Whetstone ’16, Tanaya Jones ’17, Kasey Drayton ’17, (third row, left to right) Ashley Williams ’18, Kyaira Banks ’19, Eric Cilencier ’17, Dominique Willis ’17, and Roderick Zak ’19. (Photos by Scott Cook)

From participating in this week’s MLK festivities to sponsoring social events during Black History Month, the Black Student Union (BSU) is in its busiest stretch of the year. Here’s a primer on the club:

Year founded: Rollins’ chapter of the BSU traces its roots to 1969.

Number of members: 22

Leadership:

  • Ashley Williams ’18, president
  • Rayshaun Wagner ’17, vice president
  • Tanaya Jones ’17, secretary
  • Robert Whetstone and Destinee Lott, co-advisers

What to expect: Meetings occur every other Thursday in the Lucy Cross Center from 12:45 to 1:30 p.m. As Williams puts it, discussions range from current events to what’s making a person feel “happy or crappy” that day.

Signature event: Soul Food Sunday was such a big hit last fall that the club is bringing it back this spring. The date has yet to be finalized, but it will likely occur in February. The event is free and anyone can participate—as long as you bring a dish. Can’t cook? No problem. Utensils, drinks, napkins, or other items will work too. Other upcoming events: On Wednesday, January 20, the BSU will hold a free screening of the movie Dope at 7:30 p.m. in Crummer Hall’s SunTrust Auditorium. A discussion will follow the screening, and food will be provided.

In February, the club usually sponsors “Rollins College Meets the Divine Nine,” where representatives from historically black sororities and fraternities visit campus to share their organizations’ histories and cultures. A date has yet to be set.

The BSU volunteered at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida last fall. The group has three more trips to the organization planned this spring. (Photo Courtesy BSU) The BSU volunteered at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida last fall. The group has three more trips to the organization planned this spring. (Photo Courtesy BSU)

Community outreach: Rollins’ chapter of the BSU has close ties to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, a group Williams joined when she was 6. “We volunteered there last year, and we’re planning to go back three times this semester,” Williams says. “I’m very thankful for the opportunities the Boys & Girls Clubs gave not only me, but also my brother, sister, and cousin.”

Williams, a graduate of Orlando’s Jones High School, received the Rick and Susan Goings Foundation Scholarship for Boys & Girls Clubs of Florida members. The four-year scholarship covers the full cost of tuition, room and board, and some living expenses at Rollins when combined with federal and state aid. A social entrepreneurship and business major, Williams plans to attend the University of South Florida to earn her master’s in public health.

How to get involved: Email Ashley Williams or visit the Rollins BSU website to learn more.

Did you know? Several members of the women’s basketball team, including Jones, are part of the BSU. Everyone is welcome to join.