Georgetown University is celebrating the 50-year anniversary of its Black Student Alliance.
Over the years, BSA has promoted an increase in programming for Black students, faculty, and staff through panel discussions, film viewings, and professional development events. As part of its work to increase Black student retention, the BSA campaigned for and established a haven for scholarship and fellowship called The Black House, a safe space where commuter and on-campus students could study and have social gatherings.
Alumnus Conan Louis, who served as BSA president from 1971-1972, says the BSA and Black House are just as important to Georgetown and Washington, D.C., today as they were in 1968. “In a city where gentrification forces out populations of color, both the Black House and BSA largely stand for the purposes of saying, ‘Yes, we’re here, and yes, we matter.’ ”
In addition, the BSA provided deep support to another facet of the university’s commitment to racial justice: the Community Scholars Program, which also launched in 1968 in direct response to the issue of limited access to higher education for people of color in Washington, D.C. With a 91 percent graduation rate, CSP promotes social justice by enrolling and supporting a more racially and socioeconomically diverse student body.
The CSP program, managed by Georgetown’s Center for Multicultural Equity & Access, provides enhanced educational opportunity for a multicultural cohort of first-generation college students, including a five-week academic summer program prior to the students’ first year at Georgetown, and academic advising, mentoring and personal counseling, study groups, workshops, and seminars throughout their student careers.