USD students encourage greater diversity and acceptance on campus
For the past year Jelisa Roberts and Krishelle Hardson-Hurley have presided over the Black Student Union (BSU): Brothers and Sisters United at USD, as co-presidents and close friends. While simultaneously juggling rigorous academic schedules, applying to graduate school, and participating in a variety of extracurricular activities on and off campus, Roberts and Hardson-Hurley have led BSU to new goals and standards of excellence that benefit the entire university.
BSU is an organization dedicated to enhancing the educational environment of students and employees of USD by encouraging and educating the campus about diversity and acceptance. In particular BSU focuses on programs to increase recruitment and retention of African-American students and to raise sensitivity of the student body towards people of color through education and involvement. This year, under the guidance of a core group of student officers, faculty and administrative support, BSU expanded its name to include Brothers and Sisters United, with the goal of emphasizing their inclusivity and welcoming all members of the USD community concerned about diversity to participate in their organization. As a part of this focus on diversity, BSU sponsored the BLACK OUT Campaign, asking students to stand up for diversity and inclusion on campus by signing a petition and wearing a BLACK OUT t-shirt on selected days throughout the academic year. The t-shirt specifically points out stereotypes of many different racial and ethnic groups, showing how everyone can be affected by these generalizations and asking the USD community to rise above them.
Hardson-Hurley hopes the BLACK OUT campaign will encourage USD students to continue the push for greater diversity and acceptance. This was very important to Hardson-Hurley who wasn’t always sure of her own place at USD. "Although I am an African-American student, because of my pale skin, I am often perceived as being solely European-American," she said. Asking students to rise above common stereotypes will encourage "unity, awareness and identity," helping more students to feel a sense of belonging across campus.
In addition to their work with BSU, Roberts and Hardson-Hurley have been very active during their time at USD. Roberts is graduating with a double major in communication studies and theatre arts, with a minor in psychology. Along with her involvement in USD undergraduate theatre productions she is a senior RA for residential life and has worked closely with university faculty and administration on two committees, the Committee on Health and Wellness Initiatives and the Committee on Undergraduate Persistance. The experience of working with students and campus administration has encouraged her to pursue a master’s of education in higher education at Old Dominion University in the fall. Roberts was recently recognized as a member of the Alcala 100 and serves as the Multicultural Relations and Recruitment liaison for the Alcala Club. She was also listed in "Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities."
Hardson-Hurley will also graduate in May, as an honors graduate with a double major in mathematics and Spanish and a focus on secondary education. For the past semester she has worked as a student teacher, teaching math classes at a local high school. In the fall she will enter USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences to pursue her master’s degree while continuing to teach high school math. Along with a rigorous academic schedule, Hardson-Hurley has been active on campus as an RA and a former member of the Student Code of Conduct Committee. She was recently recognized as an Alcala 100 member and received a service award from the Department of Mathematics and Outstanding Single Subject Credential Student in SOLES' Learning and Teaching Program. Hardson-Hurley is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society and was listed in "Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities."
While BSU is set to welcome new presidents, the impact of Roberts and Hardson-Hurley on the organization and the university cannot be ignored. Together they have worked hard to create a more accepting environment that reaches out to the entire USD community. Their vision and leadership has helped to expand BSU, welcoming all students, faculty and staff on campus.
Roberts and Hardson-Hurley will celebrate their graduation from USD at the annual "Black Graduates Recognition Ceremony" on Friday, May 21, 2010 at 1:30 p.m. in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice.