Men and Women of Color - Spotlight
September 30, 2020 | By Ben Peters
Men of Color (MOC) is a club founded at Briar Cliff University in 2015. According Jay Rhodes, the school’s director of multicultural programs and founder of the MOC, the club was established in order for students to connect with “like-minded individuals.”
Many students of color have a difficult time finding groups to form a bond with outside of their sports programs, seeing as much of the student body at Briar Cliff is made up of athletes. Rhodes strove for students of color to “find those circles outside of sports” and to also form a cultural connection.
As well as directing multicultural programs for The Cliff, Rhodes is also a first-year academic navigator for the student body. One statistic that he found alarming was the graduation rate he saw among many of the African-American men.
“We bring a very great number of African-American males, but we graduate a very low amount,” said Rhodes. He saw a need to increase the number by bringing them into a more positive light that focused on academics and community service.
The club began from a group of men working with under privileged children to give them role-models to look up to. While a majority of those involved in education in the area are white women, Rhodes wants to push more men of color into those environments to inspire a larger chunk of the youth. “White women in education are great,” says Rhodes, “but when you’re a young person of color and this is your only role-model, what are your connections to her?” Though in most cases they might be an amazing teacher, it doesn’t show much of an example about who these students can be. Rhodes noticed many students in these places looked up to college men of color. This program wasn’t only started to help people of color on Briar Cliff campus, but to inspire future generations strive for greatness.
Brianna Hunter is a senior at Briar Cliff and also runs the Women of Color. She discussed the activities of Women of Color (WOC), a club founded the following year.
“We help students of color feel more at home on campus”, said Hunter, “because we come from all different places.” According to Hunter, the clubs main goal is teaching scholarship, education, respect and social injustices to the club’s members, made up of a variety of cultures and backgrounds.
Though the two clubs mostly work together, many times they will separate to engage in activities that enhance brother and sisterhood bonds. Both clubs currently have an attendance base of approximately 20 students each.
Since community outreach and change are two of the main focuses of the organization, they do a lot community services. Rhodes mentioned that the clubs will be working with The Underground, a safe haven for underprivileged and inner-city youth to hang out after school. They wish to get a large amount of Briar Cliff students to spend time with these adolescents, hoping to give them role-models and examples to follow.
In addition, MOC, WOC and the university’s student government are working on the “Vote for Change” campaign. They will have tables set up at various sporting games and campus events in hopes to register numerous students as voters and help change the community in a way that benefits everyone. The non-partisan campaign wants to see people and will reward those who register with a “Vote for Change” t-shirt. People from any background are welcome to join MOC and WOC, as they work to better the community around them. If you might be interested in joining either one of these clubs, you can contact Jay Rhodes through his email, Justin.Rhodes@briarcliff.edu, or Brianna Hunter’s through her email, Brianna.Hunter@briarcliff.edu.
Men and Women of Color have a rich history as well as big plans for the future.
CaRon Watson, Alicia Perez and Brianna Hunter prepare posters for the upcoming Peaceful Demonstration hosted on September 25.