By Talia Kotz
Student leaders Diyonus “Dee” Walls and Jonathan “Johnny P” Pierre are taking campus by storm, leading the Black Student Union with over 130 members; making it the largest student-led organization at Alderson Broaddus.
The Black Student Union, or BSU, is a student organization meant to establish a welcoming community for African American students at AB. BSU wants to unite students of all ethnicities, nationalities, and backgrounds and build bridges between all students on campus while helping African American students create their own history here at AB.
“Yes, it’s called ‘black’ student union, however, we accept anyone and everyone who is wanting to be a part of our organization or culture,” says Pierre.
“There also are no dues, it is completely free to become a member,” Walls says.
The main goal of co-presidents Dee and Johnny P, is to create a culture at AB that future African American students will want to be a part of. They plan on achieving this through hosting events that appeal to all students, influence those are not involved to become involved, and provide opportunities for those students to showcase their talents.
“It is important because West Virginia is one of the least Black populated states in America and we believe it’s pivotal to provide a space where everyone feels welcome and we welcome others as well,” Walls says.
According to the most current U.S. Census database, 3.6 percent of the population in West Virginia is Black or African Americans. In Philippi, 90 percent of the population is white, while 3.7 percent of the population is Black or African American. With such a small black population in Philippi, BSU hopes to create opportunities for students to get out of their rooms and participate in community building activities.
A new culture of love and acceptance isn’t the only thing BSU wishes to achieve. Another goal is to receive more donations from companies so that they are able to help and provide for their members in need. For students who have trouble providing for themselves, Dee and Johnny P have a long-term plan of collecting donated products to make care and food baskets.
Many may ask why these two seniors take on such a large organization their final year here on top of their sports and other academic responsibilities. To Dee and Johnny P, BSU has been their home away from home during their time here at AB.
“Black Student Union to us is a space of ‘comfortability’,” says Pierre. He continues, “It’s a space where African Americans at AB can be themselves, bond, and feel accepted.”
“As a community, we have so much to showcase and offer AB and BSU gives those opportunities for members or nonmembers to do so” says Walls. “It’s important we show those outside of the organization the culture of African Americans and hopefully get them involved as well.”