LifestyleBlack History Month


The Black Student Union at St. Norbert College helps students feel at home on campus

St. Norbert College Black Student Union
Posted at 11:29 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 11:43:48-05

DE PERE (NBC 26) — From the 1970s to 2022, the Black Student Union at St.Norbert College has provided a community for students who identify as Black and helped educate the campus about Black culture.

“The Black Student Union actually was established on campus in 1973. It kind of fell away from all of our recorded history until it was revived back in 2016,” said Ivy Summers, the advisor for the Black Student Union.

One of the students who helped revive the organization was Jasmine Gordon, now an alumna who works at the college as the community engagement specialist at Mulva Library.

“We really did so just to kind of build the community amongst our student group and also to help educate the rest of the campus about Black history, about Black culture," Gordon said.

St. Norbert College is predominately white. According to data from the college, 85.21% of students identify as white while just 1.70% of students identify as Black or African American.

Off-campus a lack of diversity is even more prevalent. The city of De Pere is over 90% white and less than 1% Black or African American according to data from the U.S Census.

"As a Black student coming to a predominately white institution, there are struggles that they have above being a first time college student," Summers said. "If you think back to when you were in college for your first year or your kids were in college for their first year, that transition into adulthood is difficult so having an additional layer of race to be added on top of that makes it all that more complex."

That’s why the Black Student Union aims to provide a network of support for Black students on campus. The organization helps connect students to resources such as academic support, the college's STAR program to help incoming freshman adjust to campus, or even where to get a haircut. The Black Student Union teamed up with Starz Barber & Beauty of Green Bay to offer haircuts for students several times a month.

St. Norbert BSU
The Black Student Union teamed up with Starz Barber & Beauty of Green Bay to offer haircuts for students several times a month.

In addition, the Black Student Union also offers emotional support to help students through the difficult transition into college.

“We get together, we talk about our highs and lows, our aspirations and struggles every single week,” said St. Norbert senior Marquise Weatherall.

“They help push you to talk about conversations that you don’t normally feel comfortable talking about but they’re conversations that need to be made,” said junior Jordan May.

Students say that being a part of the Black Student Union has helped build their confidence and given them lifelong friends.

“Being a part of Black Student Union and other cultural groups here on campus was definitely my favorite part of being a student here on campus, just the camaraderie that we all had and just sharing our experiences together,” Gordon said.

St. Norbert College will host a number of Black History Month events in February, some of which will offer an opportunity to support the Black Student Union. Additionally, throughout the month the Mulva Library archives will feature displays of Black history on campus including the history of the Black Student Union, civil rights protests at St. Norbert College, and influential individuals throughout the college's history.

You can see a full list of the college's Black History Month events here.