Our names are Obioha Chijioke ’24 and Tofunmi Olabode ’24, and we are Co-Presidents of Cornell’s Black Students United. Before we all head out (or stay!) for the winter break, we have some amazing news.
This semester, we met with Emma Leynse ’23 and Katherine Yao ’23, the associate and opinion editors respectively of The Cornell Daily Sun, to discuss expanding the range of campus perspectives in opinion guest content submissions. The Sun wanted to diversify the voices that were published in the opinion section to reflect the true range of experiences on Cornell’s campus. BSU was happy to comply.
Black Students United was founded in 1979 out of what used to be the Afro-American society (founded in 1967). We provide a network/venue for the members of the African Diaspora to express their needs and have those needs met. We intend to be a strong and influential campus-wide voice of action for the Pan-African community as we promote and cultivate Black culture on Campus. We serve as an umbrella organization for 30+ other political, professional, cultural, performance, fraternal and sororal organizations. Coming into this school year, one of our major goals was to establish a column in The Cornell Daily Sun. We initially wanted a platform to amplify our efforts and showcase the activity happening among our sub-organizations. We couldn’t have been more excited when the opinion editors reached out.
Working with the editors throughout the semester, we crafted the vision for a rotating column. It was a truly collaborative initiative — BSU is grateful to The Sun for making what a few months ago felt like a dream, come to life. We and the editors recognized, however, that there were many other organizations on campus that would benefit from access to the platform. For that reason, we are creating a bi-weekly rotating column to provide a platform for all clubs and other student groups on Cornell’s campus that advocate and provide safe spaces for underserved and underrepresented voices. This includes affinity, advocacy and activist groups on campus who tend not to be represented in The Sun’s guest content. The contents of this column will not be promotional, but rather highlight club activities and responses to campus news with respect to the organization’s values.
Essentially, if you haven’t heard about our organization, we are hoping that this column can change that, and do the same for many more student organizations on campus.
Okay, so who are the current members of BSU, and what have they been up to this semester? We are prominent members of the Student Assembly, Kappa Alpha Phi Pre-law Fraternity, the Milstein Program, the Nigerian Student Association, BlackGen Capital, Underrepresented Minorities in Computing, Black Greek Life Organizations and more. During the summer, we run our virtual “Inside Scoop” series where we prime incoming Black and Latinx students on what they can expect coming onto campus. We opened the school year with a week of events for orientation week. Shortly after, we held a club fair for organizations under our umbrella called “Black Life on The Hill” and threw an annual freshman mixer in Ujamaa. We ran a voter registration booth on Ho Plaza ahead of the midterm elections. Last week, we held our annual Town Hall, where we had an open-floor discussion about the issues our community faces with the Vice President for Student and Campus Life, Dr. Ryan Lombardi, and the Dean of Students, Dr. Marla Love. We hope to have an equally productive spring semester, and hope that you might be able to interact with us as well!
We hope that this column is a useful tool for organizations around campus to publicize their amazing work. We look forward to contributing and reading it, and can’t wait to see what it does for underrepresented and underserved communities across all identifiers on Cornell’s Campus.
Obioha Chijioke ’24 and Tofunmi Olabode ’24, Co-presidents of Black Students United, are students in the College of Arts & Sciences. Comments can be sent to [email protected]. BSU can be reached at [email protected]. This is the first installment of Amplify!.