A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

SRJC Black Student Union receives Best Club award

Photo courtesy of Rafael Vasquez
Members from Black Student Union, M.E.Ch.A., Dreamers, Polynesian Nation, Native American Student Council and other SRJC students gather for a multicultural dinner in the Center for Student Leadership.

The Inter-Club Council granted the Black Student Union the Best Club award, recognizing its work and contributions to the community at a council meeting April 29.

Through its constant work ethic and persistence, the BSU brought honor to Santa Rosa Junior College thanks to its involvement with the local community and immersion in worldwide issues and affairs.

The BSU has hosted documentary nights, community barbecues and open mics, and participates in numerous equality-focused committees, said BSU President Elias Hinit.   

Representatives from the BSU, M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudianti Chicanista de Atzlan), SRJC Cheerleading, SRJC Ice Hockey and the Biology Club stood before the council to present why their clubs should win the Best Club award.

On behalf of the club, BSU member Darika Ramsey said BSU deserved the award because the club helps the community and promotes civil rights.

The council voted on which club to award the honor, along with the $500 prize that accompanies it. BSU won the majority vote.

Ramsey said she felt excited and grateful upon hearing her club won.

“I feel that the work BSU has done on and off campus benefits both our community and college,” she said. “If we cannot come together as a community, how do we expect change to happen? There is unity in diversity.”

Diana Kingsbury, club member and a BSU representative, said she believes the BSU deserves this award for its work in direct action training, tutoring, civil rights advocacy, community service and overall work in the empowerment of people of color.

“I felt very welcomed and valued as a member of BSU and M.E.Ch.A., as a friend and a white ally,” Kingsbury said. “I think it is the responsibility of those of us with white privilege to be as informed and involved as possible with issues that affect people of color primarily.”

Damion Square, co-chair and founder of the BSU, said he appreciated the club winning the award. “It’s a great first step for the JC to show recognition of the work from student clubs. Clubs are a vessel for sharing, fostering critical thinking and developing resources. It shows the progress we’re making as students,” Square said.

BSU member Steven Covarrubias said the money from the award will help with future plans. “It’s a good start for next year,” he said. “We’ll have new leaders, more help with activities and more publicity for the club. It will show people we’re dedicated.”

Covarrubias said activities the club is planning include educational trips, barbecues, a BSU retreat, conferences and involvement with the Santa Rosa High School BSU.

BSU members attend conferences and forums to promote open discussions within the community to talk about issues plaguing our society and to develop solutions.

Within the last year, club members attended the California Community Colleges Black Caucus Leadership Conference, the UC Berkeley’s Women of Color Empowerment Conference and the Stanford University BSU/Black Community Services Center (BCSC) Youth Empowerment Conference.

BSU and M.E.Ch.A. often collaborate on a number of events such as cleaning Andy Lopez Memorial Park, conducting direct action protests and co-hosting the Stand in Solidarity with Ayotzinapa and Social Justice event.

BSU and M.E.Ch.A. co-hosted the recent Youth Education/Empowerment Conference, originally known as M.E.Ch.A.’s Raza Youth Conference, which promotes educational and cultural enrichment for more than 400 middle and high school students and their parents.

In February BSU hosted guest speaker Charlotte “Mama C” O’Neal, former Black Panther party member and founder of the United African Alliance Community Center. The BSU had visited O’Neal on their humanitarian trip to Tanzania, Africa in 2013.

The BSU joined the Umoja Learning Community Taskforce, which will create a learning program in the fall of 2015 with the assistance of various SRJC instructors and advisors.

After its year of hard work and involvement, Hinit was proud the club won the Best Club award. “I’m grateful that the college recognizes students who go above and beyond their own responsibilities to benefit their college and community,” he said.

Hinit won the Mead Clark and Herbert W. Slater Scholarship Fund and the Graduation Speaker Selection Committee chose him to be the commencement speaker at this year’s graduation.

The title of Hinit’s speech is “Today is the Day,” in which he will thank SRJC employees for their compassion and dedication to education.

Hinit said he plans on noting the responsibility graduates have to their college and the future youth in order to better the world.

“I will also talk about the lack of critical, conscious people in our suffering world today, and how it is our responsibility to spark that enlightenment within them and our many institutions,” he said.

In addition to educating the community and pursuing social activism, the BSU is dedicated to uniting students and embracing cultural diversity.

“We are here to let students and others know we are here for you and support the same issues you do,” Ramsey said. “We stand in solidarity.”

BSU President Elias Hinit leads a Black Lives Matter protest on the Santa Rosa campus at Day Under the Oaks May 3.
Daniel Kong/ Oak Leaf
BSU President Elias Hinit leads a Black Lives Matter protest on the Santa Rosa campus at Day Under the Oaks May 3.
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Maci Martell
Maci Martell, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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