New BSU director Shayla Richardson: Standing up for what she believes

Photograph by Benj Salkind

Though the Bellevue College Black Student Union (BSU) has been around since 1967, providing students and its members the opportunity to learn about African American history and themselves, something new has been added: Shayla Richardson.

Although she’s been involved with BC’s BSU since fall 2011, Richardson was inspired by Professor Kim Pollock’s Intro to White Culture class while learning more about her history to “take a stand for [her] culture and to always speak up for what [she] believes in,” she said, and thus she decided to step up and take more responsibility by applying to be the new BSU director.

She felt as though BSU was beginning to gain the reputation as a club that doesn’t actually “make a contribution and is thought of as waste of a program,” she said. So “I became director to be a voice for the BSU and not only speak on behalf of the BSU, but show everyone the things we can do not only to contribute to our school, but our community as well.”

To Richardson, BSU is more than just a club where members gather to simply discuss African American history; it is a “support system” and a place of comfort where members can feel “uplifted” from others who share the same culture. “Our program is created to extend a helping hand to black students and push them to be better themselves academically and on campus. Being on a predominantly white campus, it can sometimes be intimidating to ask for help and other resources,” she said.

Richardson plans to use the BSU as a way to find those resources so that the members can benefit from them so they can be given the right “skills and fundamentals to [become] strong leaders.” Her leadership mentality didn’t start here. She attended Foster High School in Tukwilla, WA where she was part of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA).

Currently the only officer of the club, Richardson is striving to increase the amount of members, which presently sits at about 30, to add to the BSU family and wants to “be more of a helping hand to other students and student programs on campus,” she said.

Richardson has also set some high expectations for herself as a leader and for the BSU as a program. Some of the goals she has for BSU this coming year are to do more volunteer work in the surrounding community as well as being a more active program on campus. She plans to send the club to Washington, D.C. again and create a network with black-owned businesses. Connecting with other BSUs at other Washington colleges and high schools to collaborate with them on events is also on the agenda for Richardson.

Some of the upcoming events she has in store so far are volunteering with Umoja Fest August 3-5, which is an annual festival in the black community and also volunteering with an African American breast cancer association called Cierra Sisters.

Richardson is not only going to define what the BSU does in and for the community, she is going to redefine what it means to be part of it. She is a leader that plans on making the presence of BC’s BSU known to all. She has high hopes and high expectations and without a doubt, will reach them.

Anyone is welcome to attend events and meetings which are Tuesdays from 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (location is pending). If you have any questions you can contact Richardson at