MOI focuses on men’s needs

By Sharon Steed

Minorities on this campus are just that: in the minority. There are many organizations, though, that cater to the needs of African American and Latino students on campus like Women of Color, the CORE, and the Central Black Student Union. Only one program, though, deals with the needs and concerns of black and latino men – Men of Impact.

“Men of Impact (MOI) is dedicated to educating, motivating and encouraging black men to become strong, responsible leaders within their community. By addressing the needs and concerns facing men in our community, we desire to equip our men with the tools to cope, combat, and conquer the ills facing them in today’s society. It is designed to address the needs, personal concerns, and social issues facing Black men and the Black community today,” according to the organization’s web site.

After Women of Color was founded, Residential Life and African American Cultural Program staff felt the black men of this campus also needed an event focused on their needs, said former MOI advisor Latrina Denson.

In 1992, DuWanyne Brooks, former Assistant Director of Residential Life, and Bruce Nesbitt, the first director of the African-American Cultural Program, held a conference entitled “Men of Impact: Yes We Can,” which was geared towards men of color. As the years went on, the Men of Impact Conference turned into a year-round RSO.

Most of the programs focus on black male images and black awareness. In the past, members have participated in a mentor program with high school males. They have also sponsored hip-hop showcases, along with their annual conference.

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Members of the organization see MOI as more than just attending conferences.

Marcus Rushing, senior in applied life studies, said his involvement with MOI has given him opportunities to network with others on and off campus. At the annual conference, students can meet famous speakers like activist Dick Gregory.

Rushing said MOI also provides invaluable leadership experience. He did everything from operate a large budget to help plan the conferences. He said he believes that getting involved in the organization is important to black males on this campus.

“They really care about the interests and needs of African American men at this University,” he said.

Although the organization is focused towards the issues of minority males, females are also involved. Females can help with planning the programs, though they are geared towards male interaction and discussion, Denson said.

This year, one of MOI’s premiere programs is the Barbershop Series. According to advisor Ebony Johnson, many students wanted to participate in a series like this.

“We would ask barbers in the community to come and cut hair for free or a very low price,” Johnson said. “We would invite a student affairs professional or someone who is somewhat on their level, but is a professional at the University to talk them about their social and academic life.”

The organization holds weekly meetings and will be planning special sessions this year that will focus on personal and professional development. Johnson said MOI will also continue its involvement in community service through its mentoring programs.

Johnson believes MOI is important to the campus and community. Her only concern is the lack of male leadership in the organization. She believes male leadership is integral to the organization because they can more easily relate to the male students.

“At this point, Men of Impact is highly interested in any black male professionals who would like to have an advisor role or to be a leader or a role model or mentor to the organization,” Johnson said. “I think it is important to have some male leadership in the organization.”