BSA’s Welcome Week events look to create community

The Black Student Alliance will start the new school year with an event every day

bsa welcome week flyer

A week of events begins with an ice cream social Tuesday and ends the following Monday with an advising session.

Courtesy Black Student Alliance

As both new and returning students bustle around Grounds looking to join clubs and organizations, the Black Student Alliance is continuing its tradition of hosting events every day of the first week of classes. 

“Everyone [at BSA] ... their main goal is to make sure that they can create a community that welcomes everyone else,” said Deja Wortham, a fourth-year College student and BSA special events chair. “Everyone’s on the same page of just wanting to get people involved and make everybody feel like they’re wanted here at the University.”

The 49-year old Contracted Independent Organization, which boasts nearly 900 members, has planned their Welcome Week celebration to overlap with the University Program Council’s Welcome Week, which runs from Aug. 24 to Aug. 31. The BSA will hold official events across Grounds every day from Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, making them the only club to do so during that time period.

BSA President Keiara Price, a third-year College student, said it could be difficult for first-years who come to the University without knowing anyone to adjust.

“We’re kind of hoping that we can ease that tension by providing a week full of events — meaning a week full of opportunities — for students to find friends that they can relate to so that they feel comfortable to branch out later on in the year,” Price said.

The organization’s goal is to interact with the black community in and around Grounds in a way that increases social and political engagement of black students at the University. Wortham said they see Welcome Week as the ideal time to both create a community for students who may not yet see where they might fit in at U.Va and ring in the new year in a relaxed way.

“It can be a big shock for many black students coming into a space that is predominately white,” Price said. “I think it’s really important to have someone that looks like them ... It does ease some sort of worry when you can say that black students are here. This push [with events everyday] is very much so students can feel welcome.”

BSA’s Welcome Week, which has been in the works since the end of last semester, is comprised of seven events including The Source, which includes the annual minority-centered activities fair and multicultural performances by student groups like ReMiX and Black Voices. Other events include an ice cream social co-sponsored by the National Panhellenic Council, a relaxed game night at 1515, a karaoke night at Pizza Hut, a tailgate for the first football game, a movie night and an academic advising session.

“I know that I’ve heard before that some people say that they feel like in order to be in the black community you have to go to parties, you have to do this and that,” Wortham said. “But it doesn’t have to be like that. You can come to 1515 and just relax or go and get some ice cream but be near your dorms and meet people at the same time.”

As special events chair, Wortham is responsible for planning a variety of events that students will enjoy. She currently oversees a committee of about 20 students, which is the largest group she’s seen in her time on Grounds.

“Everyone at BSA [is] excited to meet the incoming students and everybody is just happy to help people and welcome them with open arms,” Wortham said.

The organization emphasizes that while their mission is to serve the black community, their goal is that in doing so, they are welcoming and open to all people as long as they come in willing to learn and grow. All of the events are free and accessible. 

“We really want the first week to solidify that you have a community, there is a chance for bonding, that you will have people to fall back on, that you have resources — that’s one of the biggest things,” Price said. 

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