Looking back on the Black Student Success Centre’s first year in-person
In honor of the one-year anniversary of their in-person office, we reviewed the journey of the Black Student Success Centre, from their launch to some of their current initiatives and services.
As of this February, the Black Student Success Centre has been open in-person for one year. In this time, they have organized numerous events, administered mental health services and worked to foster an open community gathering space for Black students.
The BSSC is an MSU service that launched in 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Opening virtually at first, the BSSC transitioned to in-person services on Feb. 7, 2022. The one-year anniversary of their in-person office, located in PGCLL, occurred during this past Black History Month.
The centre was first created in response to discussions surrounding Black student experiences, as well as a notable review released in 2020 discussing anti-Black racism within McMaster University’s student athlete community.
Some of the services and resources offered by the BSSC include mental health and wellness support, financial literacy workshops and community building initiatives.
In a conversation with The Silhouette, BSSC Program Support Assistant Toluwalase Dayo-Olaide explained that the centre fulfills an important need for a community hub, which Black students at McMaster were previously missing.
“There was never any central hub for [Black students] to meet other Black students. I didn't even know Mac really had any Black students. So, coming in and seeing people, connecting with people, having this space, I think it's something that incoming students are really going to benefit from,” said Dayo-Olaide.
Dayo-Olaide explained that the transition into an in-person space for the BSSC has been a catalyst for fostering community among Black students. Dayo-Olaide explained how the barriers of online services make it difficult for students to build trust and become comfortable to openly share experiences.
“You wouldn't be able to have those long, nice conversations, those spontaneous conversations online … I feel like the in-person space just makes people feel more connected to something tangible. I want to walk in there, sit down and feel like I'm part of a community,” said Dayo-Olaide
Dayo-Olaide has been with the BSSC since October 2022 and has watched the centre grow and continue to reach more students. Dayo-Olaide explained that one of the most notable points of growth he has noticed is the increased presence of Black men, where the centre had previously mostly seen female students utilize their services.
Dayo-Olaide explained that the BSSC’s 2022 Empowered program aimed to bring together Black men on campus, including undergraduate students, graduate students, professors and staff, to provide a secure space and to foster open conversations regarding stigma, stereotypes and wellness.
“There's this stigma or stereotype about Black men and sometimes stereotypes will force you to conform to them. [The Empowered program] was a wellness support for people to be able to come in and be open about themselves, the things they face and get advice from people that are above you … We were creating a safe space for the guys on campus,” said Dayo-Olaide
The BSSC is located in PGCLL room M07, and they continue to provide virtual and in-person services. More information for accessing these services is available on the BSSC website.