Men of Color Collective gives students a chance to talk about issues

The new student group, the Men of Color Collective, makes plans for the semester. 

Rachel Sinn

Men of diverse backgrounds will establish a foundation for the Men of Color Collective, a new group on campus, said Sylvester Gaskin, group adviser and program coordinator for multicultural students.

“The Men of Color Collective, we’re basing it off of a model of a youth development in Oakland, California. That’s where I’m from,” Gaskin said. “There’s five kind of components to the program: scholarship, skills, safety, support, success.”

Conversations will begin among students based on the five pilars in hope of solving on-campus issues.

“In the past, there has been similar organizations and initiatives that have been started and stopped because there hasn’t been a consistency of advising or just a consistent direction,” said Timothy Hall, group adviser and graduate assistant for the school of education. 

Gaskin and Hall have seen a large amount of interest among students on campus.

“Creating an environment where men of color — undergraduate, graduate, doctoral students, faculty and staff — can have a collective space where issues concerning men of color at Iowa State can be openly discussed,” Hall said. 

The first informational meeting will be held Wednesday in the Hach Hall atrium.

“Everything is ran by the undergraduate men. It’s coming from the perspective of the undergraduate men,” Hall said. “As their advisers, we are just there to help. Help with their ideas, help create some clarity in the things they want to accomplish.”

Hall hopes the group offers established role models and mentors for its members.

“Men come from various backgrounds and you need that sense of connectedness with someone else that’s going through a similar issue. You need that sense of relatability with other men who have gone through some sort of issue, they have the opportunity for mentorship,” Hall said.

Gaskin said the Men of Color Collective has basic similarities to its counterpart on campus, the Women of Color Collective.

“What we really try to do is build a kind of cohort of student leaders who wanted to have these conversations and then build from within,” Gaskin said. “One of the things that the model in Oakland [did] was starting from a sense of unity in the very beginning and then holding the conversations to develop trust.”

The first meeting will provide information about the group’s goals and start the conversation about issues men of color are facing.

Gaskin wants the first meeting to supply the collective with feedback from students on the things that are important to them. 

“We are bringing in alumni from the university or just faculty and staff that just are in position of success or have [successful] jobs. Literally just someone that these undergraduate men can look up to and say ‘Whoa we came from the same similar background, yet you made it,'” Hall said.

Gaskin has been incredibly impressed by the initiative of the students willing to get involved in the Men of Color Collective.

“It’s very student-driven. I keep saying and we all keep saying, ‘It’s their show.’ We, as staff advisers, we’re here to assist and support them,” Gaskin said.

The outcome of the group will hopefully create a better understanding between peers about racial issues, Gaskin said.

“You know, I think that the conversations we’re having about diversity on campus are going to lead us to a better place,” Gaskin said.