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BSU event

Leading Change

Nursing major Toni Stradford described Widener’s Black Student Union as a big family.

“It’s my home away from home,” Stradford said of the organization, which she credits with helping her become a leader. “It taught me to not be afraid to speak up and to let my voice be heard.”

The Black Student Union (BSU) at Widener endorses a message of unity through community. Its members use cultural awareness to spark action, ignite change, and challenge students to become leaders.

“When people first think of BSU they think it’s just for black people, but that’s not true,” said Sidney Jones, a psychology/pre-physical therapy major. “We seek to educate and really want to understand each other and that starts with having a conversation because that’s how you grow.”

Stradford, who is the president of the Black Student Union, added the group holds open student forums to discuss topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement, interracial relationships, poverty, and social class.

BSU members also make community outreach a priority. The group regularly volunteers at the Chester Senior Center, local soup kitchens, The Salvation Army, and Widener Partnership Charter School.

Northeast Philadelphia resident and BSU Vice President Stephanie Laurancy remarked how she is especially determined to inspire Chester youth to go to college.

“When we go out into the community they can see that I did it and they can do it too,” noted Laurancy, an international relations/political science major.

And like many clubs and organizations on campus, Widener’s BSU also knows how to have fun. The executive board often organizes mixers and coordinates events with Black Student Unions from other universities.

“That shows the unity not only on our own campus, but in the surrounding area,” said Laurancy. “We like to bond and we like to have fun.”

And having such a supportive and open environment is why Stradford chose to attend Widener three years ago when she was a high school senior.

“Every other school I went to was different,” Stradford said. “Widener just had this atmosphere of being friendly…it was very genuine.”

She recalled entering college with a “spirit of inquiry” and organizations like BSU have given her the space to grow.

“When you come to Widener don’t forget to stop and get involved, make your time a worthwhile experience,” Stradford said.