Previously known as the African American Student Union, the Black Student Union completed a rebrand at the end of the fall semester of 2022.
The purpose of rebrand was to expand its outreach and involve students beyond those who identify as African American. BSU members see the brand change as an opportunity to represent Otterbein in a diverse way.
“When it was branded as AASU, it was more for African American students,” said BSU Secretary Jaya Johnson. “Now that it’s changed to BSU, I see more Somalis and more Arab people. I think it brings more people of color together.”
Not only has the brand change proven to be effective in the eyes of veteran members, but new members are also noticing the impact. Freshman member Andy Badu said he felt as though the campus could be changed for the better by promoting BSU.
“African American feels like a category, like only certain people can come,” Badu said. “Ever since the rebranding to [the] Black Student Union it feels more inclusive, and I see more people come.”
While it has been a couple months since the rebranding took place, BSU members had yet to see Otterbein take the initiative to acknowledge the change on the official Otterbein website. The executive board members were vocal about this delay on the university’s end.
“I feel disrespected,” said BSU Programming Chair Mary Walls. “We did [the rebranding] ourselves. They’re probably intimidated because we took matters into our hands.”
BSU members weren’t the only ones to address the university’s delay in changing their webpage information. Otterbein faculty recognized that such webpage changes require the IT department to work in conjunction with the communication department.
“These changes simply take time,” Director of the Office of Diversity Frank Dobson said. “It’s mainly a technical thing, not a philosophical one.”
In working as BSU’s advisor, Dobson was the first to hear about students wanting to make the brand change and oversaw every step of the rebranding process carried out by the BSU’s Executive Board.
“When they came to me with the idea of the rebrand and gave me the reason why, I understood,” Dobson said. “What they want to do with the organization is make it more universal, if you will. In 2023, it’s more important than ever that name changes and language usage suggests openness and acceptance. I couldn’t tell them no because they’d given it a lot of thought.”
[Editor's Note: While waiting to go into publication, the campus issued a statement that acknowledged the rebranding of the Black Student Union. You can find the statement here.]