Fight to Reestablish the Black Cultural Center

One of the key things the BSU had been lacking during recent years was a permanent space to hold meetings and for Black students to gather. Supporters of a revitalized BSU also wanted to cement their own affairs office, similar to that of the Multicultural Affairs Office and the Native American Student Center. In 2020, former BSU president Alphonse Crittenden applied for a more permanent home in the Idaho Student Union Building (ISUB) for a Black Cultural Center.1 The request for space was further supported by the BSU advisors Lynda Freeman and Jessica Samuels, conveying that the BSU students had the backing of Black faculty on campus.2 Crittenden worked with Dr. Sydney Freeman Jr. in writing the request, a process that took over a year to complete.

The request was granted in 2021, giving the BSU a designated space, something it had been without since 1975—a monumental moment for Black students on campus and 50 years in the making. The space given was smaller than what was originally desired, but students were still excited and appreciative of finally regaining a space of their own. The establishment of a space for the BSU was followed by the hiring of a director, Mario Pile, to the Black Cultural/Student Center that now resides on campus.3 This accelerated growth in more recent history paints a strong picture for the revival of the BSU on campus and highlights its revamped initiative in terms of making a difference on campus. The BSU, at its current point, is arguably the strongest it has been during its 50 years on campus and it is thanks to the efforts of Black students and faculty that have strived to make the University a more diverse place.


  1. “Title: Initial Proposal for Reestablishment of the Black Cultural Center,” Black History at the University of Idaho,
  2. “BSU Advisors Letter of Support for ISUB Space,” Black History at the University of Idaho,
  3. “University of Idaho Black Student Union,” Black History at the University of Idaho,


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The Seminal History and Prospective Future of Blacks at the University of Idaho Copyright © 2023 by Brody Gasper and Sydney Freeman Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.