By Julianne Bartosz
Black Students and Allies is a club dedicated to raising cultural awareness for African American students and diversity issues at Saint Mary’s University. Within their first semester as a club, BSA has developed into a successful and well-known group on campus.
“We were around last year, but sort of as an unofficial club,” said BSA Treasurer Miles Dunna.
This year, as an official club on campus, BSA has hosted multiple events for the SMU community. During the first semester, the club organized Beauty Week to emphasize the significance of inner beauty. It also held Africa Night, one of their more successful events, to celebrate African culture. SMU students were joined by Winona State students to dance, watch African performances and enjoy ethnic food that members of the club prepared.
More recently, BSA hosted three successful members of the African American community who spoke on Feb. 15 as a celebration of Black History Month. The speakers were Minnesota State Rep. Booby Joe Champion, Star Tribune Managing Editor for Operations Duchesne Drew, and SMU alumnus and Winona State University’s Interim Assistant Director of Housing Xavier Wilson.
The speakers discussed the struggles and achievements of their professional career as a member of the minority. Dunna said the event emphasized that everyone “can make a path for themselves regardless of skin color.”
“This was a ground-breaking event for me,” said Dunna. “It was a professional panel with diversity, yet I could relate. It reminded me to make an opportunity to make dreams come true.”
BSA started planning this event early during first semester. The event was recognized in the Winona community, earning a front-page story in The Winona Daily newspaper.
The group is currently compiled of about 15 SMU students from diverse backgrounds. Their meetings and events are open to the SMU community.
“Our events are open to the Winona-Goodview area,” Dunna said. “Getting people from the area is another way to network.”
Information about BSA events is distributed through email and posters displayed around campus.