The past members have reflected, now see what’s in store for the future of the CSU
Bridget Stringer-Holden (she/her) // News Editor
After two attempts to reach quorum and pass the constituency policy, the proposal to create a Black Students’ Union was approved at a Capilano Students’ Union Special General Meeting in the spring of 2021. Although it is autonomous from the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU), it remains a constituency group as they use CSU funding. “It’s like its own separate entity, but the CSU is pretty much like the Mom and the BSU is like the baby,” explains Feven Kidane (she/her/they/them), BSU President and CSU Black Students Liaison.
Having served as the Students of Colour Liaison for the past two years, Kidane came up with the idea for a Black Students Liaison to allow for more of a focus on Black students. “I realized pretty late in the game that it was so hard to get things going — Students of Colour is too broad,” she explained. “Obviously, I could serve various intersections within being a Person of Colour, but my real expertise comes from being a Black person.”
Last year, Kidane approached Chris Girodat, CSU Executive Director, and Lori Kosciuw, CSU Director of Advocacy, saying, “I wish there was a Black Students Liaison position…” to which they replied, “we can make one.” The only tough part about going forward with this was getting students to come to the general meeting to vote on its adoption, because the student body needed to approve changes to bylaws and procedures to create the liaison position, and subsequently the BSU.
Other groups, such as SFU’s Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA) and UBC’s Black Student Union, were used as models, and Kidane also reached out to other Black student executives from across the country. “It is definitely not an unachievable goal to have a BSU,” she said, “so with their support, and with the CSU staff support, we got it going.”
While a few students have technically “signed on” to the motion to help create the BSU, all Black students are automatically members. Kidane is also trying to run it with a non-hierarchical structure. “It’s pretty much me who runs it, but I don’t have any leg up on anyone,” they noted. “We’re just starting out, there’s time for that down the road — I just felt that we needed our own space, separate from the rest of the CSU.”
Although it’s been a slow start, “we finally got a space,” explains Kidane, who found that meeting online was becoming really draining for people, especially due to the ongoing pandemic. The BSU’s main focus at the moment is planning activities for Black History Month.
Her dream for the BSU is to create a communal, connecting space. “I feel like at the end of it, that’s the goal,” says Kidane, “to just have a place where Black students could make those connections and form community on campus.” She also wants to champion Black rights on campus, and be the place people come to if they want to consult Black students. “I know that the CSU has political relations, so if people wanted a Black opinion, they’d know that they could come to us about stuff — but above all, just making connections and community.”
All Black students are welcome to join BSU meetings every other Tuesday in Fir 209 from 12-1pm. There are also plans to open the occasional meetings to Black staff and faculty in the future. For more information, see https://csu.bc.ca/collectives/black/.