There's No Place like Home: Florida State University's Black Student Union May Lose Its Base of Operations If the Current Plan for `Improving' the University Life of Its Students Is Carried Out

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There's No Place Like Home: Florida State University's Black Student Union may lose its base of operations if the current plan for `improving' the university life of its students is carried out.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State University claims to take great pride in its diversity. And that is why when the Black Student Union house -- which accommodates the BSU's 3,800 members and the services it provides for those members -- closes in 2003, university officials want to assure the institution's African American students that they will continue to be treated fairly.

"The Florida State University conforms to both the spirit and the letter of nondiscrimination laws," FSU President Sandy D'Alemberte said in a statement about the equal opportunity policy. "It actively strives to build a pluralistic community characterized by diversity and full equality of opportunities."

The BSU currently occupies a house off of Woodward Avenue on the FSU campus, but recently their home base has been jeopardized by FSU's master plan for improving university life for students. Though the BSU supports the proposed Student Life Center, it feels that the organization deserves a house of equal value to continue serving the student body at FSU. An office, BSU officials say, simply isn't good enough.

"It's a demotion. How can the university put the most powerful agency, which caters to 11 percent of the student population, into a little office," Black Student Union President Aysha House says. "That is not a pluralistic community and this is not what FSU strives for. FSU prides itself on diversity and that is what I respect most about my university."

The BSU house, along with others located along that block, will be replaced by the Student Life Center after 2003. The new structure will provide new offices, a multimedia theater, and other advantages to future FSU students, but it will mean the demolition of the BSU house. This new building is part of FSU's master plan for improvements to the school.

"FSU has a master plan for great improvements for the university starting in 2003 and beyond. New teaching facilities and other improvements will be made for the benefit of the student body. There are no plans for removing the [BSU] house at present," FSU's vice president for student affairs, Dr. Jon Dalton, says.

In an e-mail sent to other FSU officials, D'Alemberte commented on the future of the new structure and the BSU house: "We have been through a lot of effort to develop a master plan and this structure simply doesn't fit. On the other hand, I believe we need to provide a clear plan for the BSU facilities and I will ask that student affairs provide us that plan."

Though FSU officials try to assure the BSU that it will not be without a home base, many do not feel certain that there will be adequate compensation. The student government is working closely with the BSU and the university to ensure that everyone gets fair treatment. …