The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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BSU reopens renovated Black House

The Black Student Union held a grand opening of their Black House on Halstead Street Tuesday night to create a family environment among its members and improve graduation rates for black CSUN students.

Members of the BSU have been working on renovating the house, which was built in 1992, since the summer. The overall cleanup of the house was accomplished last week.

“It was so messy,” said Tom Spencer-Walters, chairman of the Pan-African Studies Department. “What you are doing is very important.”

“Thank you for the great work you have done,” Spencer-Walters said.

Biniyam Fissehaye, a sophomore political science major and BSU vice president, said, “The whole idea is to create a family.”

“We want to make it an actual house,” Fissehaye said. “We have a computer room, a library room and a kitchen.”

Another goal of renovating the Black House was to encourage more studying, Fissehaye said.

“Hopefully graduation rates will go up,” he said.

Graduation rates are low in numbers among black CSUN students.

More than 2.7 percent of black first-time freshmen students at CSUN complete a degree in four years or less, a report from CSUN’s Office of Institutional Research indicates.

Twelve percent of black transfer students at CSUN graduate in four years or less, the report indicates.

“More of us are in prison than in college,” Fissehaye said.

While the house used to be open only on Tuesdays, the BSU hopes it’ll stay open longer if it becomes popular.

“If necessary, we will have it open everyday,” Fissehaye said. “If students need it, we will have more hours. We are not sure how many now.”

By creating more student interaction, freshmen can become more involved and receive advice and tips from older students that’ll help them graduate, Fissehaye said.

“It helps to get advice from others that have taken the same major,” Fissehaye said.

“Hopefully, we start using kitchen to cook on Fridays and Saturdays,” Fissehaye said.

Patrick Hogg, a junior public health education major, said, “The theme was grandma’s house, comfortable but respectable.”

“People were not using it as much as they should have been,” Hogg said. “I am confident they will when they see what the Black House has to offer.”

One of the main goals was a higher graduation rate by having a library and computer room, Hogg said.

Another goal of the reopening was to make it possible for students “study together at the house,” Hogg said.

“We wanted a house where you feel comfortable to where you can interact with your people and achieve the ultimate goal of graduation,” Hogg said.

The Black House has more than 30 members. Aside from these members, NAASP, ASO, EOPSA and several fraternities were present during the cleanup and renovation from the summer until the grand opening on Tuesday.

The Pan-African Studies Department provided the money for materials and paint.

Charlean Parker, a junior liberal studies major and member of the BSU for two years, said, “I am really happy with the outcome of the situation.”

“We want to get more people to know where the Black House is and hopefully we’ll be put back on the map,” Parker said.

“People come here to study, meet new people and learn about culture,” Parker said. “The middle room will be used the most.”

During the grand opening on Tuesday, new issues of The Black Pages, a news publication created by the BSU, were made available.

“This is the first year it looks like a newspaper,” said Jacquelyn Hampton, editor-in-chief of The Black Pages.

“It is mainly for black students,” Hampton said. “Sometimes we feel nothing in the Sundial pertains to us.”

“The next issue of The Black Pages will be released during Black History Month, and the next one will be put out during graduation,” Hampton said.

“We hope to have one every week if we can,” she said.

The current stories in the news publication include stories about one of the dangers of energy drinks and on Barack Obama’s campaign.

Encouraging members of the BSU to vote in the A.S. Senate elections was Joy Delouth, who ran for the Student Rights At Large position.

Extending the parking lot and buying back the bookstore are two main goals Delouth has for the Senate.

“There are not enough parking spaces. We’re trying to find out how to expand them, especially in the dorms,” Delouth said.

The Black House hopes its upcoming events will increase its popularity and persuade people to use the house on regularly.

A documentary, “Storm Valley State,” was shown on Nov. 7 at the Black House. It shows how black Americans “fought for diversity” in 1968, Delouth said.

A panel discussion was held Thursday at the house about Pan-Africanism. Students and professors of the department attended.

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