M.A.L.E conference moves forward after initial struggles
In an attempt to bring attention to the struggles that minority males face in the UNC system, the founders of a conference to confront those issues faced some opposition of their own.
N.C. Agricultural & Technical University senior Cameron Moore said he first recognized the achievement gap that minority males face last year. He turned to his mentor, the Rev. Gregory Drumwright, and together they created the Minority Male Academic and Leadership Enrichment (M.A.L.E.) Initiative.
The M.A.L.E. Initiative is a two-day conference, which started Thursday and will continue today, that focuses on bringing together UNC-system schools to address the achievement gap for minority males.
“It’s not just a feel-good conference,” Drumwright said. “It’s a transformative encounter.”
But the conference almost did not take place.
Moore said he pitched his vision for the conference to the system’s Association of Student Governments, which initially offered $4,000 in funding.
But five days before the event, the UNC-system General Administration contacted Moore, asking him to postpone the conference.
Drumwright said the General Administration reached out to other schools who had planned to attend to say that the conference had been postponed.
“It derailed our efforts significantly,” Drumwright said, adding that five to seven schools withdrew from the conference as a result.
ASG withdrew its pledged funding, and without the expected $4,000, the M.A.L.E. Initiative turned to other UNC student organizations, such as the Black Student Movement and the Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Outreach committee.
“This has become a very student-supported event,” said Andrew Wood, a member of the committee.
Alexis Davis, BSM president, said organizing the conference was stressful but important.
“There are not many times when you can get so many students from different universities to talk about something as important as male minority achievement,” she said.
Five schools attended the conference, with roughly 40 people in attendance. Moore said he expects more will attend tomorrow’s events.
He said he has already been contacted by multiple groups, such as Duke University’s Black Student Alliance, about holding another conference next year.
Despite logistical difficulties, Moore and Drumwright still secured multiple speakers, including keynote speaker Fonzworth Bentley, host of MTV’s former show, “From G’s to Gents.”
Bentley said he wanted to speak at the conference to produce leaders from the minority male population in a world where knowledge is the new currency.
“A lot of black males get into college, but it’s not just about that,” Bentley said.
“It’s about staying.”
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