MC’s Black Student Alliance is a safe haven for students of color

Myka Bland discusses the Black Student Alliance and its role on the Maryville College campus. Photo by Clair Scott.
Myka Bland discusses the Black Student Alliance and its role on the Maryville College campus. Photo by Clair Scott.

Maryville College’s Black Student Alliance started as an African American support group and has become the storefront of diversity on Maryville College’s campus. The BSA has branched out to become one of the most active organizations on this campus and in this community. Among the other minority groups on campus, BSA has remained the longest-running organization on Maryville College’s campus.

Advisor, Larry Ervin, the Director of Multicultural Affairs and of Voices of Praise Gospel Choir, has been employed at Maryville College since 1991.

“When I first started out working here, I was just a member of the group. I didn’t become the advisor until 1995,” Ervin said.

BSA used to be a group where students of all colors could come together and talk about different social and political issues and try to bring awareness to those issues by way of communication and integration. Study halls brought students together many friendships and in a professional atmosphere.

“If someone lost a loved one, or if there was something deeply going on against all of the blacks on campus, BSA became a safe place for all blacks and their allies,” Ervin said.

Although there has been a lot of changes within the organization, including the name (formerly known as Black Student Association), there are still students, faculty and staff who appreciate what BSA has done for this campus and the community. Former BSA President and senior Warren Sales is very satisfied with BSA’s standings on this campus.

“I think BSA is functioning the way it should be,” Sales said. “It’s running programs and meeting the needs of the students.”

By keeping the covenant of Maryville College first, BSA’s purpose on this campus has been to strive for excellence in unity, responsibility in all people and their beliefs and academic strength. “BSA’s purpose on this campus is to be a safe haven for students of color to be able to come and feel involved, respected, loved, and acknowledged,” Sales said. “Students can speak their mind with no fear of censorship and apprehension.”

Another former president, Jerica Johnson, who is now an admissions counselor here at Maryville College, has seen BSA grow throughout the past seven years. Although the organization is one of the many faces of diversity on this campus, its job is far from being done.

“In the community, BSA needs to be a flagship so that younger students can look up to and have resources to go to by mentoring those students and showing them all of the possibilities,” Johnson said. “Being that a lot of students don’t have a positive mentor in their lives, having college students from a similar background that can relate to them is something that BSA needs to be a part of.”

BSA is far from being a perfect organization, but it is definitely on the road to becoming one of the best organizations to ever become a part of the Maryville College community. “Out of all of the organizations that I advise, BSA has the most potential to be a top-ran, serviceable group,” Mr. Ervin said. “As long as they continue to pull themselves together to get the recognition.”

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