Last year, I wrote an article about the events that lead to the disappearance of Cogswell GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) and why it was important to revive this organization on campus. This fall, a group of students relaunched GSA with a new mission and vision, along with another returning student union, BSU (Black Student Union).
Both GSA and BSU are student organizations that do not constitute as clubs on campus. These "unions" are led by students but overseen by Cogswell's Student Life administration in contrast with clubs, which are overseen by Cogswell ASB.
Last summer, Cogswell GSA hosted a "Pride Brunch" to celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride in June. This fall, they will be celebrating National Coming Out Week with a series of events including a panel with the San Jose Youth Space and a baking contest and fundraiser event. "Our goal is to be the home for all LGBTQIA+ students at Cogswell," says council member Joseph Fortuno (BBA), "what we do as GSA will be what members want; this will exist as an open organization for all members and allies of the community." The organization is structured so that a council is formed to lead the organization and make decisions but members have priority when it comes to brainstorming events, projects, and activities.
Much like GSA, BSU was inactive for a period of time. Dominique Hasan (DAT), one of the co-founders of the new BSU, wanted to revive the organization to bring together students and form a community to create social and academic opportunities. "At the time (we founded BSU)," Hasan tells us, "I felt a need for belonging and connecting deeper with my experience at Cogswell as a black woman."
Hasan tells the Chronicle that she hopes BSU can bring together a new generation of students and connect them with off-campus opportunities that will allow for them to grow. BSU wants to help to create an essential awareness of the black and minority communities in our American society and how they shape it. "I feel that with our current President in office, it is crucial to find a strong sense of identity," says Hasan.
The existence of GSA and BSU are critical to student life at Cogswell. Students who identify as members of minority communities, especially those who are far from home, may feel alone while in college. Organizations like BSU and GSA allow for them to have a strong community of members and allies with similar goals, passions, motivations, and interests. Student Unions also allow for students to spread awareness about their community.
To celebrate National Coming Out Day on October 11, GSA and BSU are partnering to host an open mic event at the Dragon's Den at 12:30 PM with a central theme: "Liberation."