Although Black History Month is drawing to a close, one Ohio State student organization focuses on loving one’s blackness year-round.
The Black Student Association is the umbrella organization for all the black organizations on Ohio State’s campus, Kaelyn Sanders, a third-year in criminology and sociology and the community outreach coordinator for BSA, said. The organization has been on Ohio State’s campus for more than 20 years, putting on events once a week to give students an opportunity to celebrate their heritage.
Sanders said BSA is an involved living organization funded by University Housing, so the organization gets more money than other black organizations on campus and receives many requests from other student organizations asking for donations.
However, BSA provides more than financial assistance. Ocean Coldren, a second-year in business marketing and special initiative ambassador for BSA, said the organization seeks to provide social support and community for black students.
“BSA’s main goal is to create a safe space for students of color — especially black students of color,” Coldren said.
Coldren said that she felt alienated during her freshman year on campus.
“I was like, ‘Where’s all the black people at?’” Coldren said. “And whenever I came to BSA, I was like, ‘Oh here they all are.’”
Sanders said it’s important to be surrounded by other students with whom she can relate and feel comfortable. Coldren agreed.
“We go to a [predominantly white institution] and we are only 6 percent black in our undergrad, and it’s really important to look around and see people that look like you,” Coldren said.
Coldren said college is a struggle for anyone, making it important to be surrounded by people of the same race as it’s likely they might experience similar issues.
Sanders said BSA’s goal is for students to live their blackness to the fullest, which is different for everyone.
“Living in your blackness is essentially being who you are, being black and not being sorry about being black — whatever that means to you,” Sanders said.
Coldren said there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to experience one’s blackness, and everyone is welcome to join BSA, not just black students.
“Everybody has a place here, and everybody is important,” Coldren said.
BSA holds meetings from 7 to 9 p.m. every Thursday in the Hale Hall MLK Lounge.