BSU on wheels brings diversity to campus

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Over the past two years, The Black Student Union (BSU) has implemented an initiative to help promote NMU to diverse groups of high schoolers from inner cities in and around Michigan.

Director of the Center for Student Enrichment and Black Student Union Adviser Rachel Harris said she sees the trip as multi-purpose experience.

“The number one purpose is to help recruit students of color to Northern Michigan University and to raise awareness that we exist and we can also be a welcoming place for students of color,” Harris said. “We like to dispel those myths about what’s available. It’s also such great bonding for the group. We kind of become like family.”

BSU on wheels became active two years ago upon the request of President Fritz Erickson and BSU Co-Presidents at the time.

“I think [Erickson] understands how much younger people like hearing from younger people. If you have somebody younger, they’re listening to every word. I think having peers speak to them is really a big deal,” she added.
The first two times BSU visited schools they went in early October, but this year the group plans to complete the trip over spring break.

“I think it’s really important to have a diverse student body. I think it just adds to everybody’s experience,” Harris said. “I think it brings new ideas and creativity and just opens up people’s minds to maybe people different than themselves, there’s so many wins from having a diverse campus. The program has been showing that we have been able to reach students and we have had students come here because of our outreach. That makes students excited.”

It was brought to the attention of Chief Diversity and Inclusion officer Jessica Cruz to implement transpiration for students who may be interested in attending NMU.

“One of the things she was hoping to do was to arrange a bus maybe in the Chicago and Detroit area that they could get here for an orientation so they could come here and experience the school before they start,” Harris said.
Sophomore computer science major Taylor Ayers has been involved in BSU since she started at NMU and went on the BSU on Wheels trip last year.

Ayers said that, at one of the Detroit high schools their group visited, students were told that their options were limited to community colleges when it came to higher education because of the quality of their high school.
“They didn’t know that Northern was an option, that our [required] ACT score was so low, that our tuition was really low. You saw them light up because they saw that they had so many options,” she said.

Three new members joined BSU last semester after learning about NMU when BSU on Wheels visited their school, Ayers said.

“I think that’s really good to hear, that the things that you say and do when you’re trying to help people actually works,” Ayers said.