Putting students first: Black Student Union offers community for Black Sac State students

Club hopes to return to on campus meetings

%28Left+to+right%29+President+Kameya+Turner%2C+member+Kimberly+Jackson+and+Vice+President+Kamiya+Turner+talk+about+their+roles+and+experience+in+Black+Student+Union.+According+to+Kameya+Turner%2C+BSU+strives+to+uplift+Black+students+at+Sacramento+State.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Kimberly+Jackson+and+photo+by+Keyshawn+Davis%29.+

Keyshawn Davis

(Left to right) President Kameya Turner, member Kimberly Jackson and Vice President Kamiya Turner talk about their roles and experience in Black Student Union. According to Kameya Turner, BSU strives to uplift Black students at Sacramento State. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Jackson and photo by Keyshawn Davis).

Keyshawn Davis

Kimberly Jackson, a 22-year-old communications major, opens her computer to attend a Zoom meeting for Black Student Union. There, she and her peers talk about a variety of topics ranging from Black love and the effects of mental health in the Black community. 

In this meeting, Jackson shares stories about having Black hair as a child and how Black hair is used for cultural expression.

“I thought it was just a cool conversation,” Jackson said. “It’s an interesting topic because BSU does a variety of things just to create community and events. The topics can be from one thing to another.”

It is here at the Black Student Union where Black students seek cultural, academic and social support, and learn more about themselves and their culture, Jackson said.

After being away from campus for 18 months, the Black Student Union club Vice President, Kamiya Turner, says she wants to be on campus as much as possible. But there’s a process of renewing the organization and scheduling with the organization leadership advisor. It is uncertain when BSU would be allowed to return to in-person meetings according to club President Kameya Turner, twin of Kamiya Turner.

For now, the club has been hosting meetings online.

With most of the club’s presence online, Kameya Turner said the club has been recruiting members through social media, club rush on campus and newsletters from other Black organizations on campus.  

Kameya Turner says BSU needs support from the Sac State community when it comes to their events, tutoring and supporting hard majors. 

“We’ve been here since we’ve been reactivated to support the Black students on campus and that definitely should be recognized by the Sac State community, in that we are students first before anything,” Kameya Turner said. “Most of us are first-gen on the BSU board. So not only are we an organization, but individually we are students.” 

RELATED:Welcome Black’ returns to Sac State campus for first time since quarantine 

Overall BSU aims to highlight and uplift Black students, Kameya Turner said. 

“They should have advisors, alums or people that look like them, that can help them,” Kameya Turner said. “Somebody that is willing to commit taking time to understand and help with those that are in the certain majors and just Black students in general.”

Jackson said she recommends incoming Black students join BSU because the club helps connect students to resources on campus. Either this be to spaces like the Martin Luther King Jr. Center or the Cooper-Woodson Center in Amador Hall room 460.

“I think learning to navigate a predominantly white institution and knowing your community is super important,” Jackson said. ” Having people that look like you and having those resources is essential.”

I think learning to navigate a predominantly white institution and knowing your community is super important. Having people that look like you and having those resources is essential.”

— Kimberly Jackson

 

According to Kameya Turner, BSU is what she likes to call “the hub” because that’s where Black students can find all different kinds of services. Through BSU other organizations have collaborations with one another on helping students be supported.

“The majority of people don’t know about other organizations so they come to BSU first,” Kameya Turner said. “We are always highlighting other Black organizations that may be more closely linked to what they are looking for.” 

BSU also offers a space to talk about mental health. According to Kameya Turner, these conversations are not talked about enough in Black communities, especially as college students in predominantly white spaces.

“We are given enough space to find these students so they can be supported on Sac State campus,” Kameya Turner said. “What BSU majority provides is a connection for all Black students to hang out, talk to us, and to keep their brains fed.” 

Kamiya Turner said what drew her to lead BSU is the people that came before her—previous students and board members. There’s a cycle of strong leadership, and it’s up to her and other board members to continue it.

“Really seeing them in action and seeing what it takes for the community, why not just step up in my leadership that I know that I can?” Kamiya Turner said. “I’ve been mentored by the previous board members, why not respond to my leadership and at least push BSU forward because the Black community at Sac State is just a little bit small?”

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Being passionate and helping her community is what drew Kameya to lead BSU, and being in that position made her become a better leader.

“I know how it feels to do [leadership] in many different situations, to not feel supported, to not have people there for you that look like you,” Kameya Turner said. “With my experience, time and commitment that I have to the community, I feel as though it made me want to be president so I can provide all of this expertise to not only the Black community but my board members as well.”

This January, BSU will be hosting the Afrikan Black Coalition Conference at Sac State. ABC is a nationwide conference, where BSU chapters from all over the country meet and network with one another. Kameya Turner said she’s excited for BSU to host and show other universities what Sac State BSU and the Black community has to offer.

“It shows other people from other schools, if they’re having a hard time at their school, Sac State could be an option,” Kameya Turner said. “Having this space really is what ABC is about. Having a space to show other Black students that you don’t have to stay in your area. There’s more Black people to network with.”