DUNMORE, Pa. – After a period of dormancy, the Black Student Union (BSU) at Penn State Scranton is back in action, with a robust roster and exciting events lined up for Black History Month.
The club, which was initially formed in 2019, faced some challenges due to role changes and a decline in membership. However, thanks to the dedication of the current executive board and the support of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator Emily Glodzik, the BSU is once again thriving.
Glodzik who took on the role of diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator in September 2022, expressed her personal and professional commitment to revitalizing the BSU.
“Since I started, it has been a goal of mine to re-build this club into active status again,” she said. “It has been a priority of mine, when we started to receive interest this past fall, we did everything we could to support them. I am so proud of this group of students that has worked so hard to make this happen, and we are looking forward to keeping this momentum going.”
BSU Club President Josephine Sesay shared her aspirations about getting the club active and involved on campus again.
“My primary goals are to foster a sense of community and support among Black students on campus. I aim to create a safe space where members can openly express their experiences, challenges, and successes,” she said. “Additionally, I want to promote cultural awareness and understanding by organizing events that educate the Penn State community about Black history, achievements, and contributions.”
“My primary goals are to foster a sense of community and support among Black students on campus. I aim to create a safe space where members can openly express their experiences, challenges, and successes. Additionally, I want to promote cultural awareness and understanding by organizing events that educate the Penn State community about Black history, achievements, and contributions.”
—Josephine Sesay , president, Penn State Scranton Black Student Union President
Together, the club hopes to empower and inspire Black students to thrive academically and socially while building bridges of understanding and allyship with the wider campus community. They are encouraging the entire campus community to come out and attend the events they have been working on for Black Spirit Week and Black History Month.
Black Spirit Week events
The campus' BSU is gearing up for Black History Month with a series of engaging activities starting next week:
- Monday, Feb. 5: Launch into Black Spirit Week and Black History Month with a flavorful journey through cultural cuisine from local hotspot Caribbean Paradise, served from noon to 1 p.m. at The View Café.
- Tuesday, Feb. 6: Experience an afternoon of lively entertainment as you witness the campus' karaoke talents and groove along to the beats of the “Cha-Cha Slide,” “Cupid Shuffle,” and more, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at The View Café.
- Wednesday, Feb. 7: Dive into an enriching session of Black History Bingo from noon to 1 p.m. at The View Café! Indulge in snacks and seize the opportunity to win fabulous prizes as part of Spirit Week's third day.
- Thursday, Feb. 8: Be captivated by the awe-inspiring Zuzu Acrobats from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at The View Café! Hailing from Tanzania, the Zuzu Acrobats showcase 2000 years of history through gravity-defying stunts, live music, singing, dancing, and more, celebrating the rich culture of East Africa.
- Friday, Feb. 9: Conclude Black Spirit Week with a thrilling game of Family Feud from noon to 1 p.m. at The View Café! Join the excitement and competition for prizes and keep an eye out for a special surprise guest!
“We have so many fun things in store I can't choose what I'm most excited for!” Glodzik said.
Sesay said she hopes to create a sense of unity and pride within the Black student community, fostering a supportive environment through the BSU Spirit Week activities and celebrations.
“For the broader Penn State student body, we hope these events serve as opportunities for education and dialogue. By participating, students can gain a deeper understanding of Black culture, history, and contemporary issues,” Sesay said. “We aim to promote empathy and a shared sense of community across diverse backgrounds. Ultimately, the goal is to create an inclusive and informed campus environment where students not only celebrate diversity during Spirit Week but also carry these learnings forward in their daily lives.”
The impact Black History Month has on the community and beyond
Both Glodzik and Sesay emphasized the importance that Black History Month plays not only as a major chapter in American history, but throughout the world.
“Most people don't realize the accomplishments of people such as Shirley Anita Chisholm, or Claudette Colvin, or Mae Jemison, or Benjamin O. Davis Sr. If it weren't for so many Black heroes making groundbreaking changes in the arts, sciences, politics, military, space and aviation (and so much more), we wouldn't be the great nation we are today,” Glodzik said.
For Sesay, Black History Month serves as a reminder of the often overlooked or underrepresented stories, struggles and triumphs within the Black community.
“Attending Black History Month events allows others to gain a deeper understanding of the diverse and impactful history that has shaped our society. Participating in these events is an opportunity for everyone, regardless of their background, to broaden their perspectives, foster empathy, and contribute to a more inclusive community. It is a chance to learn about the rich cultural heritage, resilience, and accomplishments of the Black community, fostering mutual respect and appreciation," Sesay said.
“Attending Black History Month events allows others to gain a deeper understanding of the diverse and impactful history that has shaped our society. Participating in these events is an opportunity for everyone, regardless of their background, to broaden their perspectives, foster empathy, and contribute to a more inclusive community. It is a chance to learn about the rich cultural heritage, resilience, and accomplishments of the Black community, fostering mutual respect and appreciation.”
—Josephine Sesay , Penn State Scranton Black Student Union president
Glodzik emphasized the inclusivity of the BSU and encouraged all students to participate in its events.
“All students are welcome to join the Black Student Union, and this is something I try to highlight not just with BSU but with all multicultural clubs. Having allies and friends in your club regardless of race/background/culture/creed shows that we are all one, and we are all united and supportive of one another. BSU, Indian Student Association, LGBTQIA+, Student Organization of Latinos — these clubs are no different from our other non-multicultural focused clubs and organizations, and anyone could, and should join in support. In doing this, you not only show that Penn State Scranton students are united, but students can truly gain an experience and/or perspective they may have never had before, which is personally enriching.”
Sesay feels the same, she said.
“It is important for people from various backgrounds to come together, share experiences, and engage in dialogue. This inclusivity not only enriches the club’s environment but also contributes to breaking down stereotypes and fostering a sense of unity among students,” Sesay said. “Our events and discussions will be more meaningful and impactful when attended by a diverse group of individuals who bring different perspectives and insights to the table.”
As Penn State Scranton prepares to celebrate Black History Month, the revival of the BSU stands as a testament to the University’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. With a vibrant membership and a calendar full of enriching events, the Black Student Union is poised to make a meaningful impact on campus and beyond.