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 and discussions.
- 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!