This inactivity of the BSU was unfortunate for the modern campus of the University of Idaho, as it serves as both the voice for Black students on campus and a safe haven. Not having this essential component of the modern university that exists at most campuses limited the ability of the University of Idaho to look more appealing to Black students—and Black faculty for that matter. It also made it harder for Black students coming from different cultural climates to adjust to an area that is overwhelmingly White and has a racist history, as aforementioned. This can be seen in the experiences of Black students who attended the University of Idaho and who felt more or less alone.
Marcis Fennell, a Black student-athlete who attended the University from 2004-2008 (undergrad), 2010-2011 (master’s), and 2015-2017 (doctorate) and obtained his PhD in sport pedagogy and character education, had a somewhat negative experience at the University. He noted that during his time as a student-athlete, there were no real Black student organizations that supported him. He also said there was not a lot of support from the Athletic Department either, commenting that the only real base of support he had was from fellow teammates on the football team.
The experiences Fennell had regarding the lacking presence and outreach of the BSU showcase why the University has struggled when it comes to supporting Black students, the irony being that the BSU was founded by Black students. If Black students at the University do not have organized support, then their experiences are sure to be tarnished and they cannot be expected to feel comfortable on campus grounds.
Wyryor Noil, a Black student-athlete at the University of Idaho pursuing his master’s degree in education, commented similarly concerning the BSU’s presence. He noted that he did not really know of any Black student organizations on campus that had reached out to him and offered him support. The inactivity of the BSU in more present history showcases the negative effects of its absence on Black students at the University of Idaho. Although the BSU has been off-and-on in terms of activity, recently there has been more progress made toward reinstating its presence on campus. If a graph was designed to display the activity of the BSU on campus, it would display a notable rise around 2018 with BSU-supported Black Lives Matter Protests.1 The activity increased further after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, and this pushed the BSU towards securing and reaffirming their presence at the University of Idaho.
- “University of Idaho Black Student Union,” Black History at the University of Idaho, https://www.lib.uidaho.edu/blackhistory/items/bsu_2018-03-23_protest_01.html. ↩