“This year, I really wanted to make it my goal, as co-chairperson of MADO, to make sure that this event happened, because I think it’s really important,” said Malin Curry, a junior studying political science and public relations and one of the organizers of the event.
Black males in the UNC class of 2014 cohort, studied by the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment, had a four-year graduation rate of 68.9 percent, a full 15.1 percent lower than the cohort of Black females, which came in at 84 percent. The general student population cohort for the class of 2014 had a graduation rate of 85.6 percent overall.
For some graduates attending the event, the dinner was one part of a larger movement to draw more Black male students to UNC.
“I think that the University should strive to go after some of these kids,” said Walter Faison, a member of the class of 1982. “I just think that if we made the effort to attract them, just like the football team — Mack here is trying to get all this homegrown talent — there are a lot of intelligent young Black males here in North Carolina in our high schools, and if we don’t reach out to them, they’ll look elsewhere.”
Nick Scott-Hearn, a junior studying math and economics, said the dinner seemed like a good opportunity to meet members of the Black community.
“It seems like a great space to meet other Black men on campus and to meet older Black professionals who are just here to meet us, and that seems super cool,” Scott-Hearn said.
Uzorma Owete, a junior computer science major, agreed.
“With UNC being a (predominantly white institution), it’s comforting and valuable to have solidarity and relationships with other Black males who might be able to understand you and your experiences,” he said.
Some students said having experienced the dinner, they were more aware of other Black men at UNC.
“It changed my perspective in that I found that there were a lot more Black males on campus that were in higher areas,” said Mykel Yancey, a first-year studying biology. “There was one who had a pretty significant role in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and in the Office of Admissions. It just shows me that there are other people on campus who look like me, who can give me guidance if I need it.”
Curry said the dinner was a way to start a discussion around Black male enrollment and retention.
“Especially in today’s times, things like Silent Sam and other issues on campus are put to the forefront, and Black male enrollment and retention is not something that’s really talked about, so the goal of this event is really to get those conversations started,” Curry said.