On Sept. 1, the Office for Inclusive Excellence (OIE) held the first Black Male Initiative meeting of the year.
The Black Male Initiative Program allows students to have networking opportunities, faculty and staff mentorship, peer to peer connections, and learning life skills from professors.
The program has been running for two years, with a gradual increase in participation each year. Kemoni Farmer, the multicultural development graduate assisstant, Corrine Gibson, the director of the Office of Inclusive Excellence, and Keisha Booker, the assistant director of the Office for Inclusive Excellence, all worked hard to orchestrate the event.
The program’s message, according to Booker, is to “encourage holistic development for our students, where they can excel and flourish with people who are their own.”
Through the fall semester, the Black Male Initiative program will host an etiquette dinner, game nights and a masterclass series that occurs every two weeks. During this class, a different professor will choose important life lessons that are applicable to life as young Black men.
Alexander Ufelle, a professor in the public health and social work department, said during the opening event for the program that Slippery Rock has been opening up opportunities for Black students to go far.
Ufelle told an anecdote of when he came to the states from Nigeria to get his PhD about having little to no support until he found Black mentors that were able to drive him to his success. He is hoping through this program that the same can happen for SRU’s Black students.
Franklyn Charles, a professor in the communication department, made a point of saying, “for our black students, we need more black professors. . . If you need someone to vibe with, after COVID my doors are always open. Until then, I will always be open for meeting over Zoom.”
There is a crucial need for Black students to feel supported and able to connect with professors who are able to relate to them. This is one of the main focal points of the Black Male Initiative program offered by the Office for Inclusive Excellence.