LMU's Black Student Union (BSU), headed by sophomore political science major Rishan Ephrem, aspires to be a space for Black LMU students to take a break from the tiring reality of America's political climate and to be in community with each other. Ephrem shared the goals and achievements of BSU with the Loyolan.
Jordan Boaz (J.B.): What drives BSU forward? What are your goals as an organization?
Rishan Ephrem (R.E.): BSU is driven by our Black student community and other Black organizations on campus. We are the only Black student organization that serves any and all Black students, regardless of one's intersectionalities. We strive to strengthen our Black student community while advocating for our needs on and off campus, as well as other marginalized communities.
J.B.: What does BSU wish LMU would do differently to better support Black students?
R.E.: To best support their Black students, LMU should be implementing all the demands listed by #BlackatLMU. Students thoroughly researched and prepared the document throughout their summer, doing the anti-racist work that should have been coming from administration. BSU also wishes the anti-racist and inclusive sentiment that LMU claims to put forth should be pro-active, not reactionary.
J.B.: When are your meetings, who can attend, and how many BSU members are there?
R.E.: For the most part, BSU events and meetings are not regularly scheduled. As of right now, we have our biweekly Netflix Party showings of Black sitcoms, such as Moesha and The Parkers, continuing on Oct. 22. Our Instagram account (@bsulmu) and our LEO page are the best places to keep in the loop for future events. Our meetings and events are open to all LMU students regardless of race and other identities. The newly assigned Black Family list includes a total of 105 students.
J.B.: How does BSU nurture community and healing during a pandemic and racial injustices?
R.E.: BSU nurtures community by creating fun and informal settings for Black students to convene. Thanks to #BlackatLMU, the Black students had plenty of opportunities to strengthen the bond within our community. Though those spaces were extremely productive, BSU sensed the void of casual, leisurely activity within the Black community. Our e-board decided to take the steps necessary to fill that void, and allow Black students the place to hang out with their peers, while not always having to be reminded of the issues in our country causing many of us stress and/or anxiety.
J.B.: How does America's political climate shape BSU and its members?
R.E.: Since the protests started in June, BSU has received much more attention from non-Black members of the LMU community. We are incredibly thankful for the support from the LMU community, but at the end of the day our mission is to serve the Black student body before it is to educate non-Black people. The current political climate in America has also encouraged the whole Black community at LMU to be more engaged in politics and in our communities. Members of our community expressed the want to be more active in BSU and other Black student organizations as well. Once it is safe, BSU hopes to work with more Black-LA based mutual aid organizations.