Acalanes Boasts First-Ever Black Student Union on Campus

By Sydney Lauer, Staff Writer

// Despite race being a prevalent issue, both locally and nationally, some students feel Acalanes has lacked the supportive environment necessary to have these discussions, such as a Black Student Union (BSU).

  This year marks the first year Acalanes has offered a BSU in the 78 years since its establishment. Senior Josephine Griffin, junior Jaedyn Boynton, and sophomore Deja Cooper formed the club as a way to bring students of color together and promote unity on campus.

  Associate Principal Andrea Powers, who approved the club, is especially supportive of the BSU and is excited for those voices to promote diversity at Acalanes.

  “It is super important to have a BSU on campus,” Powers said. “If you can promote who you are, different people, and that no matter what our differences are, we are all Dons and represent Acalanes, even better.”

  Boynton, the Vice-President of BSU, spoke about her motivation for starting the club.

  “I found that in our school, a lot of people don’t feel comfortable talking about these issues because they don’t know how to,” Boynton said. “We go to a predominantly white school, so it is easy to disregard the small percentage of black students at Acalanes and in the community.”

Courtesy Black Student Union

  According to U.S. News, 72 percent of students enrolled at Acalanes for the 2018-1019 school year are white, while black students make up just one percent of the entire student body.

  BSU club leaders plan to cover a variety of topics in their meetings, including the use of the N-word, what it means to be black, and the lack of African American literature taught in schools.   

  “Our goal for this club is to not only bring all the students of color together, but to also educate students not of color about the black culture,” Secretary of BSU Deja Cooper said.

  Cooper and Boynton encourage students of all backgrounds to join the club.

  “Although the BSU gives off the vibe that it is black students only, it most definitely welcomes everyone because we really want to educate those who aren’t black and empower those who are,” Boynton said. “What matters is that we have one now. With everyone’s help, hopefully this club will continue on in the future.”

  Black Student Union meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at lunch in room 507. BSU founders encourage students to stop by during meetings to see if it’s something they could be interested in joining.

  Sophomore and member of BSU Zachary Jordan Baisas joined the club to support his friends and learn more about current racial issues that occur on a local and global level.

  “The best thing about the club is the feeling of equality that is shown from everyone else in the club. They just know how to make everyone feel included,” Baisas said.

  Many feel welcome to join BSU, regardless of its name.

  “I don’t think being white would stop me from joining BSU,” junior Katie Bishop said. “All people should be involved in trying to decrease the amount of racism in the United States.”

  After only the first month of meetings, members of BSU feel more knowledgeable about black culture and the experience of being a black student at Acalanes.

  “From my experience so far, I’ve learned more about the prejudice and inequality that people of color face today,” Baisas said. “I think these lessons and discussions can help Acalanes High School by teaching kids to be open-minded and respectful to one another.”   

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