The first week of college is tough. From finding your way around campus to getting to know your new group of friends, moving to a new place is a big change for anyone. For black students attending a predominantly white institution for the first time, finding comfort in a new home can be an even longer search.
To expedite the transition process, Western Michigan’s Black Student Union is putting on the second annual Welcome Black Week, hosting events on and around campus from Sept. 3 to 6.
“The goal for Welcome Black Week is to let students know that there’s a space for you as well,” said BSU president Jerjuan Howard. “We go to a PWI but we still have programs here that make you feel like you’re welcome and have a voice on campus. It’s important that students know they have somewhere you can be yourself, connect with people like that look like you and come from a similar background.”
Howard hopes the slew of events familiarizes incoming students with current BSU members, connecting them with mentorship opportunities and a social circle outside of the classroom. Countless studies like this one from Western Kentucky University examine college student’s success in the classroom, highlighting the link between involvement in extracurricular activities to heightened academic performance.
Howard echoed the idea that involvement outside of the classroom can be directly linked to a student’s success inside of it. “Whether it’s with BSU or just connecting with people to go to the rec and hoop with, you need that extra engagement because it helps you be more successful and being more comfortable on campus in general,” said Howard.
BSU kicks-off Welcome Black Week with Black Organization Cookout on Tuesday at Goldsworth Valley Pavillion, where they’ll partner with other black organizations on campus like Young Black Male Support Network and Full Circle to provide food and beverages from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday they’ll host two events including Black People Meet from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the flagpoles, and Old School Game Night at the Bernhard Center that evening. Thursday, Sept. 5 will conclude the events on campus as BSU is set to host a bake sale from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the upper lobby of the Bernhard Center, followed by a block party at the Wyatt Apartments from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday Sept. 6.
Howard encourages all students to come out to an event to learn more about BSU and ways to get involved on campus. “Just going to class and going right back to your dorm room is never good,” said Howard. “We really just want to have fun and leave a good impression on our incoming freshman.”