Hannah Peters | Staff Writer
It’s official – the Black Student Union (BSU) is back and in-style.
On Sunday, BSU held their first major event of the year – their annual cookout, this year with a 90s theme.
Despite a last-minute location change due to weather, over 50 students, outfitted in full 90s attire, could be found in the Nite-Spot eating, playing games, dancing and singing to classics from TLC, The Notorious B.I.G., Aaliyah and more.
“We wanted people to come have fun before classes on Monday and enjoy food, hang out, meet new people and just have a good time,” said Lindsey Harris, club president.
Complete with the typical cookout cuisine, plates were filled with an array of foods including chicken, mac and cheese, pasta salad and baked beans. Bringing in a taste of home, Harris’s mom also helped by contributing some of the dishes.
Adding to the festivities was a ‘Dress to Impress’ contest that offered prizes for the top three best 90s outfits. Trinity Baxter came in first, followed by Daviont-Baker Alston and Ryan Ellison, each receiving a gift card for their impressive throwback styles.
In anticipation for the event, BSU also announced a fashion week that lasted from Tuesday to Friday. In a spirit-week-like fashion, each day featured a different theme to inspire student outfits.
The themes were decided upon by BSU’s board members who all pitched their creative ideas. One board member, senior vice president of marketing and communications Madison Pollard, felt this added something new and exciting to Duquesne’s campus.
“Each day we thought of something fun and creative that each student could express themselves with and still have fun doing it,” Pollard said. “Especially with the cookout today, it helps to tie back to our roots and appreciate our culture more.”
The week started off with ‘Twin Tuesday’ followed by ‘Hip Hop Make it Pop’ on Wednesday, then ‘Tear it up Thursday’ and finally ‘Brown is Beautiful’ on Friday.
While some themes, like ‘Twin Tuesday’ and ‘Tear it up Thursday,’(wearing an outfit with tears or rips in it) called upon the fun and creative side of BSU members, other days had a more significant message.
For Wednesday’s hip-hop theme, students hit campus representing artists as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop being celebrated this year.
Also inspired by Black culture, Friday’s ‘Brown is Beautiful’ included the instructions: “Brown skin is beautiful and so are you! Wear a brown outfit to celebrate the beauty of the color brown.”
The fashion week information was shared via digital flyer, available internally through CampusLink and publicly on the organization’s Instagram, @duqbsu.
Harris, who originally proposed the idea of fashion week, felt these themes were a way to spotlight the empowerment of Black creativity.
“Fashion week is to highlight different aspects of Black culture through clothing but also just to give students an opportunity to represent themselves,” Harris said.
Madison Snyder, senior vice president of programming, voiced her appreciation for the community aspect of the event.
“The best part of this week was seeing everyone’s creative outfits and the way they express themselves,” Snyder said, “It’s cool to see how we build a community that’s actually participating in the things we’re doing.”
Nialah Miller, senior vice president of finance, said this community aspect is what she loves about being involved with BSU.
“The best part is being able to bring people together to just enjoy themselves and have a safe space where they’re able to express themselves. It’s always a great time,” Miller said.
To keep building on this year’s growth, Pollard called upon new students to get involved and join, citing the importance of community and family on campus.
“Never be shy to talk to us – we’re open to having that friendship with everyone on campus,” Pollard said. “You’re not alone as a college student and BSU helps with building those relationships and friendships that help you realize you’re not alone and that you have a family to help guide you and back you up.”
The same sentiment was expressed by Ethan King-Vincent who feels BSU has acted like a family for him on campus.
“Everybody knows everybody here so there’s this family environment where everybody can call each other family,” King-Vincent said.
The feeling of family was no doubt present and alive during the cookout, and this event is what King-Vincent believes has sent the message to campus.
“This was a statement to the rest of the Black students at Duquesne that we exist,” King-Vincent said. “We’re here for support so show up and show out.”