Check out this storify article to view social media activity from the symposium.
Leaders from several minority male organizations recently joined forces to host “Taking the Reins: M.A.L.E.S. Symposium.” More than 100 students, faculty, staff and alumni came together to discuss the retention issues faced by men of color at Carolina.
The event featured remarks from student leaders, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp and Michael L. Zollicoffer, M.D. ‘85 who delivered the keynote address. He shared the story of his father who earned his medical degree in 1962 from the UNC School of Medicine, only the fourth African-American to do so after waiting nearly a decade for its doors to open to students of color. As the youngest graduate at age 17 from N.C. A&T State University, Lawrence Zollicoffer could have attended any of the predominantly black medical programs in the country but decided to wait for UNC to admit him. He encouraged students to take charge of their lives and to stop putting unimportant things first and to "remember to give back so we can move forward."
Alumni, dating back to the 1960’s attended the symposium. Barry Brinkley'01 said he attended the symposium because as a male alumnus of color he was eager to have these critical conversations with students, faculty and fellow alumni. He said, “This cause is important to support because it doesn't just affect males of color at UNC. It affects everyone.”
“This event allowed students to hear from alumni like myself about our Carolina experience and to see the similarities that exist” Brinkley said. “It allowed for deeper connections to form that will hopefully sustain and provide an even deeper support system for the male students who attended.”He and other alumni sat with students and had the chance to network with other students during a networking lunch hosted by the Alumni Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity.
The day also included the introduction of the Excellence Pins Program that promotes solidarity among undergraduate, minority men at Carolina around the values of personal responsibility, group accountability and contribution toward maximizing their academic experience. As undergraduates, minority male students are encouraged to wear a silver pin as a symbol of their commitment to these values. Upon graduation, they will receive a gold pin and will pass down their silver pin to an incoming first-year student. Each student who wears the pin will add their name and contact information to the database of successful minority male graduates.
Undergraduate students who wear the pin will be encouraged to contact former wearers of the pins for advice, mentorship and support for the academic journey ahead.
Dillon Robinson, President of Carolina M.A.L.E.S. delivered the closing for the day. Robinson stressed the importance of supporting one’s peers in his reflection on the symposium. He said, “In order to establish and maintain this legacy of excellence we have to hold one another accountable while being responsible for our own actions.”
“These are the standards that we should be striving for as Carolina men,” he said. “This is what you should want for yourself, for your classmates, and those that are still to come.”
The event was especially timely based on data recently released by UNC’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment released last month that only 98 African-American males enrolled in the UNC class of 2017. Only 12 males of American Indian or Alaska Native descent and only 94 Hispanic males in that first-year class in comparison to 1,054 white males that enrolled.