From the death of George Floyd — which reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) — to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Student Union (BSU) has endured numerous hardships. According to BSU, these crucial times have helped shape them for the better, and with a new executive team this year, they plan to keep the momentum going.
This academic year (2022-2023), the BSU executive board includes John Banks (‘23) as president, Jaheim Morris (‘24) and Lashugn Waiters (‘24) as co-vice presidents, Savannah Nurse (‘24) as secretary, and Kyrene George (‘23) as treasurer.
BSU’s previous president Carley Mathews (‘22) and vice-president Akheem Mitchell (‘23) helped members of this year’s executive staff step into their roles. The new team is continuing to look to past leadership in order to continue building from the foundation they have laid.
“I want to really build off of what Carley and Akheem did last year because they did a great job and set the stage for us,” said Nurse.
Since this is new president Banks’s final year at Rollins, he plans to make sure that when he leaves, BSU will be a functioning and flourishing community due to his and the executive team’s work.
“I really want the students to look towards BSU as a place for them to decompress from the pressures of college,” said Banks.
Some of the executive team’s goals include increasing student involvement and feedback, partnerships with other student organizations, and community engagements both on campus and in the greater Orlando area. The team wants to explore new ways to encourage black students at Rollins to attend BSU meetings and events.
“I want people to look forward to going to the BSU meeting, and know that they are going to have fun and build community with others,” said Nurse.
BSU also wants students to know that they will be there as a support system. They aim to strengthen BSU’s presence in the Rollins community such as by attending Rollins sports games as a group to show school spirit and support the teams. BSU also plans to continue holding popular events such as Soul Food Sunday, Roll Bounce, and more.
As for partnerships with other student organizations on campus, the team wants to collaborate with organizations like the Wellness Center in order to emphasize the importance of Black Mental Health; they want to spread information about the many benefits of the Wellness Center, such as CAPS, to members. BSU also plans to collaborate with other student organizations, especially those that are similarly culture-based.
“I want to have specific connections with other organizations that will benefit BSU, and work with organizations that will match our similar core values,” said Banks.
Banks also discussed the team’s interest in increasing community engagement in the greater Orlando area. He talked about how partnering with some of the homeless shelters, for example, will help teach the members the importance of community service. The team also plans on finding and partnering with other communities which focus on black liberation.
For students interested in learning more, BSU’s next general meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Sep. 20. Additional information regarding events may be found on their Instagram @rollinscollege_bsu.