‘Black student unions evolve’

Telegram & Gazette

February 10th, 2013 by 

Arthur Martin (center), founding chairman of Holy Cross' Black Student Union, in 1968, and Theodore Wells (right), founding member. Arthur Martin (center), founding chairman of Holy Cross' Black Student Union, in 1968, and Theodore Wells (right), founding member.

In a recent article in the Telegram & Gazette, Mable Millner, associate dean of students for diversity and inclusion and director of multicultural education at the College of the Holy Cross, commented on the state of the College’s Black Student Union (BSU) compared to the past.

Reflecting on the legacy of former College president Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J.’s commitment to create diversity on campus, and also on a contentious student walkout led by a now-defunct black student corridor, Millner said that there is still progress to be made. “Those things that students saw 40 years ago are things that still need to be constantly on the agenda of any institution,” she said.

In 1968, Holy Cross alumnus Arthur Martin became the founding chairman of the College’s BSU. “Academically and athletically, [the school] fit what I wanted for an education, but it was lonely,” he said, in response to the College’s scarce diversity at the time. “Holy Cross, like everything else, is a microcosm of the country,” Martin continued. “When we started the black student union, we needed it for a lot of different reasons…It was a rallying point, and it helped us focus on who we were.”

This year, Jonathan Casseus ’14 is the president of the College’s BSU. Considering the organization’s past, he stated, “They had a common cause they were fighting against…whereas now, we’re just a group that wants to be more inclusive. We want to take in all different types of cultures and have a conversation.”

Now, black student unions have broadened, and have extended their call for a more diverse curriculum and faculty in the hopes of ensuring that students of all cultures “feel comfortable being themselves,” said Millner. “I still believe that some of what they provide is only provided through those organizations, so I hope that 45 years from now that there will be a black student union.”

This ‘Holy Cross in the News’ item by David Cotrone ’13.

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