Upon first entering the Rogue River room in the Stevenson Union, the smell of fried chicken and cornbread filled the air. Hospitality was as abundant and soulful as the food.
The event began with Keyisha Porter, head of the Black Student Union, greeting the guests and thanking everyone for attending the event. Every year the Black Student Union (BSU) throws the Soul Food Dinner, in hopes of raising awareness for the club. Porter on the purpose on the event, “Traditionally it’s been used as a recruiting event for black students. It’s more turned into a social event for people to just come and mingle and eat some traditional southern food, which a lot of people haven’t had before.”
The Black Student Union is a coalition of students who intend on opening up the dialogue on racial equality and bringing recognition to the issue. Their Facebook page reads, “The Black Student Union aims to educate our community about issues surrounding black culture, engage in social justice work, and provide fun and intellectual events.” The Soul Food dinner is one of the many events that the Union promotes throughout the year which includes the Annual Spring BBQ, and Black History month to name a few.
The Union meets every Monday in the SU at 5:30 pm and is one of the longer standing clubs on campus, being founded on August 14, 1976. Since then, it has offered students the chance to keep the dialogue open and active on racial issues in society. Porter echoed this when asked about what the BSU does for Southern Oregon, “I think we obviously bring culture to the campus. I think we bring conversations that a lot of people find are difficult to have … We try to be very understanding and open, and aim to educate rather than attack people.”
The Black Student Union isn’t just comprised of black students; it’s an all-inclusive club. The club’s acceptance was reflected in the turnout of the attendees, as the guests were racially diverse. Some of the guests identified as Native American, White, Hispanic, as well as African-American.
Freshman Ben Stevens, a health and physical education major, was one of the students in attendance. Stevens didn’t shy away when asked why he was there, “I was here for a school assignment for cultural immersion in my University Seminar class… But I planned on going anyway. I think it’s really cool, there was good food and cool people.” Even though he was there on an assignment, Stevens not only found the experience enjoyable, but also preferable to writing a lengthy research paper.
That was the aim of the BSU and the dinner, to provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience for all in attendance. Those we spoke with seemed to all agree–the goal was accomplished.
To stay connected with the Black Student Union: BSU- Black Student Union of SOU on Facebook, @bsuatsou on Instagram, and @bsu_sou on Twitter.