The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Black Student Union karaoke night emphasizes cultural exchange, community

GVL | Sam Nelson

As part of Grand Valley State University’s Black Student Union (BSU) Week, a series of events intended to honor Black History Month, a karaoke night was held on Feb. 8 in the Kirkhof Center. Students were invited to sing their favorite songs and spend time with their friends and members of BSU.

The event concluded BSU Week, in which events also helped to spread the word about BSU. Other activities throughout the week included carnival games and a fundraiser collaboration with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Maya Woodson, BSU president, said providing cheerfulness when there are constant reminders of painful Black American history is important. Woodson said BSU recognized the importance of ending the week with a fun and lighthearted evening. 

“We wanted to end on something that will help students relax, mingle (and give them) a chance to laugh and joke and have a really good time,” Woodson said. “It (karaoke night) encourages students to step outside of their comfort zone (and) connect with those who share similar experiences and backgrounds, and (also) encourage a sense of community that BSU and I believe is always important. I don’t think there is a better way to do that than to get on stage and laugh with each other.” 

A’shyah Zander, a secretary on BSU’s Eboard, said the karaoke night had a greater turnout than initially anticipated. Zander said students were more than willing to take the stage, sing and participate, which resulted in a night of minimal downtime and silent moments.

“I really enjoyed it (karaoke night), and it brought a great end to our BSU week,” Zander said. “I would definitely like to see more events like this, and we do have plans on hosting another karaoke night for the next academic year. This event really allows people to be comfortable and enjoy themselves whether they’re singing, dancing or tuning in from the audience.”

Woodson said BSU aims to foster an inclusive space for all ethnic backgrounds, with specific emphasis on creating a safe space for Black GVSU students. Woodson said BSU’s mission to promote “unity without exclusions” is made possible by events like karaoke night.

“We (BSU) would like to focus on the obstacles that Black students face in predominantly white institutions like Grand Valley,” Woodson said. “BSU Week being in February is very intentional since it’s (also) Black History Month. We’d like to take this time to honor and reflect on those who have come before us and paved the way for us to be here today.”

Looking toward the future, Woodson said BSU plans to collaborate with GVSU’s Asian Student Union (ASU) and Latino Student Union (LSU) for their annual ramen, wings and tamales event. Woodson said this event is a great opportunity for the groups to exchange culture through food, and it simultaneously aligns with BSU’s goal of emphasizing community service, unity and volunteering.

“That (ramen, wings and tamales event) always seems to be a big hit, and it’s a great chance to explore other cultures, understand other people from other cultures and see something outside of your own as well,” Woodson said.

To learn more about BSU meetings and their planned events, visit their Instagram page

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