Revitalized club rebrands image

Group to provide student support, unite community

By Mike Thomas and Jason Sykes

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The Black Student Union has returned since kinesiology major DeAndre Russell came to now BSU adviser and professor Manu Ampim two weeks ago about starting the club again.

Since talking to Ampim, Russell has also received support in his effort to start a re-vitalized BSU from faculty, students and even members of other clubs at Contra Costa College.

Russell got the word out about the BSU returning, and his actions earned him some positive feedback.
He gave brief speeches in classes and passed out flyers around campus. The results of those efforts have him excited about how fast people are reacting to his outreach as more than 50 students were in attendance at the club’s first meeting Thursday.

Russell gives credit and support to Associated Students Union adviser Ericka Greene for her role helping him get the club started.

“I’m thankful and excited about what Ms. Ericka Greene has done — she got me the support I need from the faculty,” Russell said. “I’m speechless and excited that it’s all coming together so fast.”
Ampim said he is delighted about the BSU returning. He is also satisfied with Russell’s effort on spreading the word around CCC. Russell takes intiative on his own without the advisers telling him.

“He’s self motivated and he makes sure that he and I are on the same page,” Ampim said. “It makes a difference when you can come to a class to give a brief speech and hand out flyers.”

According to psychology professor Leonard McNeil, CCC not having a BSU decreased opportunities for African-American students to have a voice on campus.

McNeil became the first African-American mayor of San Pablo in 2008. He was a co-founder of the BSU at Cal State-Fresno.

“I think it’s a mistake not having a BSU and I say this as a co-founder of the BSU at Fresno State,” McNeil said. “I think the BSU (at CCC) should connect to the (local) high schools’ BSUs — to give them ideas and to help them stay active.”

The BSU held its first meeting Thursday in LA-202. Led by Russell and Ampim, many students and teachers piled into LA-202 to hear about the group’s plans and to gain knowledge about the club in general.

The turnout of so many people showing support for the club surpassed expectations. Russell said, “There were no (available) seats. I was surprised.”

Many students showed up because they were curious about what the club has to offer. There were also students there who were interested in joining the BSU.

During the meeting, Ampim gave a brief history of what the BSU is all about and why it is important.  The club had been inactive for almost two years.

The leadership does not plan on doing things the way they used to a few years ago. There are new ideas and a main priority of the meeting was to see what the students want.

“There’s been a downward trend — you’re seeing less black faculty and less black students on this campus, so it’s no surprise there wasn’t a BSU here,” Ampim said.

The BSU has been getting a lot of buzz around campus lately and seems to be one of the more anticipated things to happen this semester.

“I’m very pleased that folks are showing motivation. It’s always exciting to hear people’s ideas and take action,” Ampim said. 

The BSU is a student-run club which allows its members to choose what they want to accomplish. At the end of the meeting Russell and Ampim took time to ask students what events they wanted the club to sponsor.

With the expansion of interested students, Russell said the BSU should have officers voted in within two weeks. He also said the club will be in full effect by Club Rush, which will be held on Oct. 28.
The BSU wants to focus on more African-American history events, and not as much on social gatherwings. One of the things Russell wants to do is organize tutoring sessions that would fit the needs of the students.

“Me getting support from these mentors allowed me to grow as a leader,” Russell said. “Since I was molded into a leader, I’m going to share my knowledge with the youth and other African-Americans, so I can bring them together as one.”

The club is getting support from faculty and staff. Athletic Director John Wade said, “I will do anything I can do to support the (BSU) — they’ve got my support, 100 percent.”