Emory Black Student Union Opens in DUC
University administrators unveiled the Emory Black Student Union (EBSU) in the Dobbs University Center (DUC) at a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday evening.
Located across from the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services, construction of the EBSU began in July as part of an effort by Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair to create more cultural spaces on campus.
“The EBSU emerged out of many, many community conversations following a really challenging year, last year,” he said, referencing student backlash to University President James W. Wagner’s controversial comments in Emory Magazine.
“This was really generated from student demand, community interest and a lot of community advocacy and support.”
The goal is to bring all members of the student body together, Nair said.
“When you’re on a campus that’s predominantly white or historically white, you want to make sure that you have a space where you feel comfortable,” Associate Director of Student Conduct and Co-Advisor to EBSU Marlon Gibson said.
Prior to the EBSU, the only space on campus designated for black students was the Black Student Alliance (BSA) house, which houses five students.
As they enjoyed barbeque, drinks and ice cream at Friday’s event, many students discussed why they looked forward to the EBSU.
“We’re honestly in the minority in numbers, and kind of figuratively as well,” College senior Malaika Nicholas said. “This will be a great space to interact with every single class, to interact with people who are not even in your major. It’s definitely a proud moment.”
The EBSU will be a meeting location for on-campus organizations like the Emory Black Student Alliance and the African American Students Association as well as an open space for anyone who would like to meet other students on campus, according to Gibson.
“I’m looking forward to hanging in this space to meet other minorities of the same race and of different races also,” College junior Arie Smith said of the new space.
Gibson — a new member of the Emory staff as of this summer — said he is enthusiastic about getting involved with EBSU because of Nair’s ability to identify a problem and meet the needs of students within a year of arriving at Emory.
“I’ve been here for two months, but it feels like two years,” he said.
The BSU advisory board, which oversaw the construction of the EBSU, is comprised of faculty, staff and students who will work to coordinate a film and speaker series every month that focuses on various issues about race, according to Gibson.
Gibson said he would like to see the space develop into>: ;lm ; a coffeehouse with spoken word and other performance showcases.
Gibson and Jessica Morrison, the interim assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services officiated the ribbon cutting. Gibson and Morrison are co-advisors for the EBSU.
“I am incredibly, incredibly happy with what we have done,” Nair said. “It just makes me so happy to see so many brilliant students, faculty and staff gathered here today to open up what I think is going to be one of the most important initiatives we can do here at Emory University.”
— By Rupsha Basu