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BSA President advocates for black students, voices on campus

October 12, 2016
Advertising senior Kelsi Horn poses for a portrait on Oct. 7, 2016 at a Black Student Alliance meeting in Hubbard Hall.    Horn.  Horn was recently appointed to president of the group.
Advertising senior Kelsi Horn poses for a portrait on Oct. 7, 2016 at a Black Student Alliance meeting in Hubbard Hall. Horn. Horn was recently appointed to president of the group. —
Photo by Victor DiRita | and Victor DiRita The State News

Advocacy. Support. Action. Radical black love.

This is the vision statement of the Black Student Alliance, or BSA, headed by new president Kelsi Horn.

“We represent all of black students here at MSU,” Horn said. “And we really want to make sure that the voices of black students on campus are heard. In a predominately white institution like Michigan State, it’s extremely important to have groups like us.”

Horn is entering her senior year at MSU studying advertising and public relations. She’s a resident assistant in McDonel Hall and is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at MSU. Horn said she’s passionate about her activism and advocacy on campus, but she wasn’t always so interested.

“I went to a pretty diverse high school,” Horn said. “I always had a pretty diverse friend group.”

Hailing from Belleville, Mich., Horn did not grow up feeling like a minority. But when she got to MSU her freshman year, she was the only black girl on her floor in McDonel Hall.

“I was the ‘black girl,’ it was weird,” Horn said. “It wasn’t so much a problem for me as it was for other people. I could tell that some people were just really uncomfortable with me and I just didn’t know why.”

Horn became aware of a new kind of racism she had experienced little before: microaggressions. In classes, classmates assumed she wasn’t going to do as much work or that she was less intelligent, she said. In her hall, she received rude comments and glares from people she barely knew or had never seen. After her first semester, she decided to make a change.

She first joined the Black Caucus in McDonel Hall her second semester freshman year, and then became the ASMSU representative of the BSA her sophomore year.

“That year was very eye-opening for me,” Horn said. “I was dealing before just with problems in my residence hall, but I got to learn more about the process as a whole. I met a lot of faculty that were resources to me that I didn’t know I had.”

Horn continued being an advocate for black students through BSA and was named vice president of the organization her junior year.

Today, she spends her time tackling issues relevant to students alongside her e-board, a part of a group she never thought to join when she first arrived on campus. She is loved by members of her e-board.

“Kelsi? There’s so many words I could use to describe her,” BSA vice president Tyler Logan said. “We know how to do business together, but we laugh a lot too.”

Logan, as Horn’s vice president, gets to spend a lot of time with her in meetings and in making BSA the best it can be.

“Every week we meet with multiple people across campus,” Logan said. “We really just do the best of what we do together. We help be the face of an organization together.”

BSA political affairs director Ashley Carr, who has been active in the BSA for two years, said the BSA’s work is essential.

“Going to a predominately white institution, we need places like Black Student Alliance and other black student organizations on campus to give us the safe places to feel comfortable and like we’re at home,” Carr said. “Because when we’re in class, or going to the bus, or walking, we don’t feel at home.”

Carr said the BSA serves as a bridge for all black student groups to connect. Throughout the year, BSA and its partners put on many events around campus.

To Black Caucus director Shanika Kidd, that’s not the most important service BSA provides to students.

“Every day we can say a name of someone who has killed (been) by police, or was wrongly charged who was black, and I think that it’s important that people notice that their black peers might be grieving,” Kidd said. “With the list of names of people that have passed away due to police brutality, my heart has been heavy when I’m going to class. ... You feel like you’re the only one holding that burden. We’re here to create a welcoming environment for students who are grieving.”

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This is the radical black love addressed by BSA in their vision statement.

“We are here to be a resource to black students, but it’s because we want to better this campus,” Horn said. “If we create better Spartans, we can impact the world.”


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