Black Student Success Initatives
The Black Student Success Initiatives were established in 2021 and are designed to
meet the particular needs of Black students at CSUSM. The BSSI is not intended to “fix” the student, rather it will address needs, build social
resources and personal leadership skills to maximize student success opportunities.
The three primary goals of the program are to:
- Support a strong Black community for students to thrive
- Build a foundation for Black academic success
- Develop a network of Blacks regionally to support graduates
CSUSM has programs focusing on particular kinds of students, including: the Latinx community, the Indigineous community, veterans,
people who have grown up in the foster care system, and people who have been impacted
by incarceration. Like these initiatives, the BSSI is rooted in the unique needs of the Black community and is based on three core concepts:
- Cultural is vital. The BSSI will be centered on Black experiences and culture, recognizing that culture provides
the tools to resist marginalization, bolster connections between people, and gives
insight into university-level courses.
- Asset-based approaches work. Rather than focus on weaknesses that students have, the BSSI believes that students already come with strengths and resiliencies from their own
experiences, families and struggles. The BSSI will do this by bringing in the students’ lived experiences into the programming
- Structural barriers exist. In order to acknowledge and address structural barriers, the program is rooted in
Critical Race Theory (CRT). Developed as a way of identifying and intervening in a racist legal system, CRT has proven useful
in examining discriminatory laws and discourses, as well as disparities in health
and education. CRT strategies include recognizing how power is being implemented along lines of
race, the historical context for this struggle, and the use of narrative as an intervention.
Current aspects of the BSSI include:
- Ujamaa Achievement Program
- a community of learners dedicated to academic excellence, leadership development,
professional advancement, and community engagement
- Community Expansion Initiative
- opportunities for connection, mentorship, and leadership development through the establishment
of auxiliary groups in the Center
More programs and initiatives to come!
For more information abou the BSSI, please contact John Rawlins III, Director of the
Black Student Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.