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Black Student Union hosts first heritage night since COVID-19 pandemic

The event highlights the Ethnic Student Center’s mission to provide community to the historically underrepresented

A student wearing a red dress cheers on another student dancing to music. Western Washington University’s Black Student Union is hosting their first heritage night since 2016 on May 4, 2024. // Illustration by Isabella Doughty

Western Washington University’s Black Student Union is hosting the Sunset Soirée on May 4, 2024, in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room. This will be the first heritage night dinner hosted by the Black Student Union since 2016. 

“We haven’t had one in so long,” said Andrew Long, the data analyst for the Black Student Union. “In general I would say it’s important to celebrate one’s culture, their race, whoever they are, and be able to do that in a public, open space for all.” 

Long also said it’s important to have events like heritage nights for people to experience different cultures and see how they come together in celebration.

To celebrate this occasion, the event will have catering provided by Calypso Kitchen, serving jerk spice chicken with Trinidad pimento chimichurri. The event will also feature dancing performances by SINI-HHA, along with a singer performing the Black national anthem.

Yousef Tirhi, an event planner for Western’s Arab Student Association, said he helped plan the heritage night dinners for the Arab Student Association as well as the Muslim Student Association.

“I think the biggest thing is working with the publicity center to get flyers out for our dinner. We had a big banner that we put out that helped with getting participation,” Tirhi said. 

Tirhi also explained that they met up with staff in advance to prepare for the events, planning marketing materials in addition to acquiring speakers and setting up chairs.

“The Black Student Union is a really big club, it has a big community even in Bellingham,” Tirhi said. “Having the proper marketing techniques and advertising in media is really huge.” 

Long said the media presence for the event has been very effective; the BSU has been posting on Instagram to count down the days until the heritage night. The event will also feature raffle prizes from Bellingham businesses such as Wink Wink Boutique.

“The general acknowledgment is to honor where we came from and where we’re going,” Ian Bryant, a Western student, said. Bryant explained that heritage nights honor the sense of community and diversity on campus, captured for a single night through good food and performances. 

“It really emphasizes the diversity on campus, which is really big for bringing in new students — that there is a group for new students to associate with, to feel welcome being around,” Tirhi said. ”College is hard, especially for new students. They can go to these places and feel like they have a family outside of their real family.”

Tickets for the event are $10 for students and staff, $12 for general admission. There are five raffle baskets, with each costing $1.

Ronan Lynch

Ronan Lynch (he/him) is a third-year visual journalism major who enjoys hiking and thrifting. You can usually find him at the gym or you can reach him at

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