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s the new director of the Black Student Resource Commons (BSRC), Joshua “Jay” Rice is ready to hit the ground running. “This is very specific work,” he says. “For me, serving Black students ultimately makes me happy. And the institution benefits because of [increased] recruitment and retention of these students.”

Rice joined USD in December of 2022 after serving as assistant director for the Black Resource Center at the University of California, San Diego. Prior to that, he worked in student housing until he realized that his work gravitated toward Black student experiences.

“I realized that those were the things that sustained me — it moved from being just a job to there being passion behind it. I realized that I wanted to focus the work on a day-to-day basis to be about Black students.”

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the BSRC. It’s a space for advice and advocacy; a place for programs, events and services focused on the needs of USD’s Black community and a place to explore personal identity and shine a positive light on Black culture.

“We provide services that allow our students to develop academically and socially, and to explore their identity, which is extremely important, especially in understanding that we do exist at a predominately white institution,” Rice says. “The commons provides a physical space for students to study and to relax and take a break. It’s an environment for intentional dialogue — one that really centers on Black experiences.”

Additionally, staff proactively works with other campus units to reach out to students who may be struggling. “We want to make sure we assist in setting students up for success, so we reach out to see how we can support those students and help them get back on sound footing.”

Other programs include the “Black And” series, which focuses on intersectionality and the weeklong Black Summer Immersion Program, aimed at helping Black students acclimate early to USD. “Sometimes our underrepresented student populations don’t have as much experience coming into an institution that allows for a sound and seamless transition. It’s about providing assistance.”

Additionally, the BSRC offers a peer mentor program for first-year Black students. “There are a lot of conversations that are just better for students to have with their peers, because they’re able to provide a level of perspective that you might not get from the professional staff on campus. It adds a layer of validity to the advice.”

Rice is excited to grow the commons, and stresses that having dedicated resources for Black students at USD is paramount.

“Identity is such an important part of our lives. It doesn’t often come up in curriculum, but impacts the ways in which we learn and the ways we navigate the very spaces we are in,” he says. “Having a space that really centers Black student experiences also helps with inclusion, because it allows our students to see themselves reflected in the infrastructure of our institution, which is extremely important.”