University of Washington senior and Black Student Union (BSU) vice president for communications Tracy Hansen-Lamont referenced a quote by one of his heroes, Malcolm X, when addressing the faculty, staff, and students in attendance at BSU’s “Men Promoting Change” event at Parrington Hall, Nov. 15. “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
In its second year, this event aims to build relationships between African-American male students and African-American male campus leaders and other mentors through networking activities and discussions. By participating, students have the opportunity to learn from and strengthen connections with male role models.
“When I look at graduation rates of African-American males compared to females, they are 16-20 percentage points lower,” OMA&D associate vice president for assessment Emile Pitre said. “No other ethnic group on campus has a difference between males and females of more than 10 percentage points. The goal is to narrow the gap here on campus and it is imperative that we get more faculty and staff involved.”
Joining Hansen-Lamont in facilitating the two-hour event was Jordan Dacres-Wong, BSU vice president for community affairs. Pitre and Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs, represented the faculty and staff with remarks.
Among the highlights was a discussion about the difference between success and greatness that included a video depicting Dr. Cornel West, Princeton University professor and a prominent political intellectual, examining that same question. West’s point was that success tends to be associated with material wealth, while greatness encompasses the idea of becoming a decent and compassionate human being. According to Hansen-Lamont, the purpose of using that exercise was to convey the message “that living for a bigger cause is an essential part of having a meaningful life.”
Students were also able to engage in a networking activity with faculty and staff during which they received advice about overcoming obstacles.
In addition to Pitre and Taylor, UW faculty and staff in attendance were Raphael Chillious (Department of Intercollegiate Athletics/Men’s Basketball), William Covington (Law), Jarman Hauser (College of Engineering), James Flowers (Office of Student Financial Aid), Joe Lott (College of Education), George E. Sanders (Comparative Medicine), John Vinson (UW Chief of Police) and Craig Wilson (UW Police lieutenant).
View a photo gallery from the event.