The Black Student Union: On a Mission Driven by Love

BSU Officers

Spend a few minutes talking to Black Student Union (BSU) members about the organization, and it won’t be long before themes of unity and inclusion quickly surface. 

“We really strive to bring resources, fun events, and build a community for all students on campus. With ‘Black’ in the name, there is the misconception that BSU is only open to minority students,” said Skyler Stewart, current BSU President and Walsh senior. “If you come to our events, you do see students of all colors and different backgrounds.”

A precursor to BSU began in 1985 as Ebony Eyes: The Black Outlook, with the purpose to help students understand and appreciate Black American culture and heritage. By 1993, BSU had been established. Today, BSU aims to be an organization that supports and highlights diversity of all kinds with a centralized mission toward the advancement of students at Walsh University.

“The Black Student Union provides same-minded students the opportunity to engage in service learning activities as well as develop leaderships skills,” said Carrilyn Long, BSU Advisor and Director of Multicultural Affairs. “The most valuable asset of the Black Student Union is to see the transformation of students from their freshman year to their senior year. Students become empowered and take ownership of their learning and career path. I feel like a ‘proud mama’ when I see their transformation and how they have embraced it. Graduation is of course the icing on the cake—mission accomplished!”

Stewart said she began her journey at Walsh as a shy freshman, but the connections she made at her first BSU meeting helped her find her community and her voice.

“Even though none of us knew anybody, they just came to us with welcoming arms and open hearts. They were super kind and willing to help you in all aspects of your experience here at Walsh,” she said. “BSU means so much to me because I can be that friend, I can be that mentor, and I can be an advocate, but also we can build a community here at Walsh University that has the longevity to persist after we’ve graduated.”

When planning campus events, the BSU leadership team looks for ways in which they can seek collaboration with other groups and departments on campus. Examples include a fall cookout co-hosted with World Student Organization (WSO), a mental health awareness event co-hosted with Counseling Services, and the annual Homecoming Dance, which drew a crowd of more than 200. In honor of Black History Month, BSU has a full schedule of programs featuring informative and recreational events showcasing “The Power of One.” A few of Stewart’s favorite programs this year include the Black History Showcase, highlighting minority businesses with takeaways for students, Soul Food Sunday with Black History BINGO and sharing of traditions, and a video project answering the question “What does Black History mean to you?”

Service is another component to the BSU mission. Students have given their time sending thank-you cards to frontline workers and educators, volunteering at the North Canton Church of Christ food distribution center, and more. Though COVID precautions have limited in-person service opportunities, they seek other ways to give back. Most recently, BSU partnered with Athletics to host a January Diaper Drive through Stark County Diaper Bank to benefit families in need.

“It’s really important that we branch out and build that community,” Stewart said. “We’re more than just BSU – we’re a community here at Walsh and a family if we choose to become one, so I think it’s important that we do engage ourselves in other activities. You never know who is needing that support.”

In some cases, that support comes in the form of spreading the word about resources on campus such as the Cavs Closet or Cavs Cave, and helping reduce the stigma of utilizing those resources.

In addition to President Skyler Stewart, the 2021-22 BSU leadership team consists of 1st Vice President Thomas Wilks, 2nd Vice President Mattison Davis, Secretary Style Henry, Treasurer Tyree Broyles, Senator Jaden Baxter, and Marketing Coordinators Juanita Gray and Marley Manigault.

“They are the most loving and supportive people I have ever met,” Stewart said. “Just to be part of an organization that is driven by a mission of nothing but love shows what you’re able to do for others in need. BSU is one of the most transformative things I have been able to be a part of at Walsh because of the people we reach and because we took a little bit of extra time to show some love to someone that needed it.”


Hear from the rest of the BSU leadership team:

Jaden Baxter ‘23
BSU Senator

Political Science Major

“My favorite thing about BSU is the impact we leave on students all across campus. The fulfillment in unifying people from different walks of life through meetings, events, and the love of God is priceless. I want the Walsh University community to know that we welcome all people, no matter their race, gender or creed. We love and accept everyone.”

Tyree Broyles ‘23
BSU Treasurer

Graphic Design Major

“BSU is a fun group that holds events for all students. I know some people get confused when they see ‘Black’ in the name, but we encourage all students to get in on the fun. BSU has helped me open up and learn about myself. I want to help other students be successful, and it makes me proud and happy to help others do just that. By being the best I can be, others are able to see me and follow in my footsteps.”

Mattison Davis ‘23
BSU 2nd Vice President

Business Management Major

“My favorite thing about BSU is our unity. We support each other and our community, and we strive to always make sure that everyone feels valued and welcomed. BSU has impacted my leadership skills as a mentor. These skills have helped me create W.O.W., a women’s Christian leadership organization on campus.”

Juanita Gray ‘22
BSU Marketing Coordinator

Marketing Major

“What motivates me as a student leader is knowing that the work and contributions I do for BSU positively impacts and inspires my peers to take the necessary steps to be a leader themselves. BSU has contributed to my growth both professionally and personally. BSU led me to become more confident, empathetic, and overall has allowed me to unlock my true potential. My experience with BSU influences me to carry on my leadership both in my community and in my future career.”

Style Henry ‘22
BSU Secretary

Exercise Science Major

“BSU has helped me grow more into the woman I wish to be in the future. I'm more goal-oriented and concentrated now than I've ever been. I've learned and continue to learn how to lead effectively. BSU has made a significant difference in my life, and I am and will forever be grateful for being a part of this club. I want the Walsh community to know that BSU is a club for everyone. We strive to be an all-inclusive club that also promotes and educates others about the black culture.”

Marley Manigault ‘22
BSU Marketing Coordinator
Marketing Major

“My favorite thing about BSU is seeing so many engaging and excepting students of so many backgrounds. BSU has made it possible for me to get to know people outside of athletics and or school, to learn about issues going on in the world, and learn other people's perspectives on those issues. It has also given me a great opportunity to talk about my own experiences, but having an engaging community to feel safe and comfortable to share my perspective on issues.” 

Thomas Wilks ‘22
BSU 1st Vice President

Marketing Major

“As BSU officers, we want everyone to feel included in everything we do. While being involved with BSU, I have gained lifelong friends and great connections with people.”