The change was approved by Student Senate in December.
By Callie Schmidt
Moya, the previous name for the United Cultures of Bethel subgroup for black students, has changed its name to the Black Student Union (BSU).
“Moya” is derived from a southern African word meaning wind or spirit – but when used by itself, it can be interpreted as “evil spirit,” according to new BSU director Hilda Davis.
“Whoever chose the name just didn’t look into it that deeply,” Davis said. “It’s also used as a slur for black people in Spanish…The name had to be changed.”
Attendance fall semester was low, but Davis expects more involvement this semester due to the name change because BSU is a nationally recognized organization. University of Northwestern also has a black student union, a college many compare with Bethel due to proximity.
Davis also expects attendance to increase this month because of the increased events this month.
“We come together for Black History Month,” Davis said. “I saw this happen last year, too.”
Students who wanted to get put on the email list had a short window at the beginning of the year to sign up. But this semester, Davis emailed every student at Bethel who identifies as Pan-African, diasporan, or black with the help of Lani Moua, BSU supervisor and the dean of intercultural programs.
If students who were emailed don’t want to be a part of it, they can simply email back and get taken off the list.
“It’s just always having that option open,” Davis said.
GOAL OF DEVELOPING CULTURAL IDENTITY
BSU’s mission statement is to be a space where students will be challenged and find support in Pan-African affairs; to instill self-worth and transparency through discussions, events and fellowship; and to help educate the Bethel community and the surrounding community about black cultures and issues.
Finding a place for ethnic and cultural identity development was crucial for Davis when she came to Bethel.
Having immigrated from Liberia, Davis describes herself as having the luxury of knowing where she comes from and her customs. The task is not so easy for other students who identify as black who don’t know their roots directly.
“It’s important to be around people who can at least relate to your experience,” Davis said. “There’s a place for everyone within United Cultures of Bethel.”
Other subgroups of United Cultures of Bethel include Asian Christian Fellowship, First Nations for indigenous/native students, Voz Latinx for Latinx students, Mixed Life and European Americans in Solidarity (previously called Peace Makers).
BSU EVENTS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Friday, Feb. 16: Black History Month Chapel – A special BHM chapel featuring Brian Herron, a speaker from Zion Baptist Church. 10:15-11 a.m. in Benson Great Hall.
Wednesday, Feb. 21: Black Voices: A Panel Discussion – An opportunity to hear the personal cultural upbringings of a few members from our Bethel community. Pastor Laurel Bunker will be the moderator. 6-8 p.m. in the Eastlund Room.
Friday, Feb. 23: Deeper than Our Skin – A Black Culture Showcase -Featuring performances such as a fashion show, spoken word, music, dancing and more. 7-9 p.m. in the Underground.