The Male Empowerment Network not only acts like family for most of its members, but it also aims to help men of color on campus throughout their college career.

The university offers hundreds of different organizations for students to join but not many students know about the different initiatives offered.

Initiatives are different than student organizations because they’re ran and funded differently.

M.E.N. benefits from being an initiative through the Student Multicultural Center — allowing the center to support and be more hands on with the initiative.

Student organizations are more independent from an office and will have an adviser, but they tend to be less involved.

Michael Daniels, the program coordinator for M.E.N., said it’s important to have an initiative so they can focus more on a long-term goal. Having M.E.N. as an initiative versus a student organization can ensure new students will join to take on power positions and the initiative’s goal stays the same when the student cycle changes.

“Since one of the biggest things we’re trying to do is decrease the inequities amongst our student population here, we have to think about what we’re trying to do as an initiative long term,” Daniels said. “So, essentially if we care about making a long term positive impact and making sure that it's structurally sustainable we’ll have to be more involved — so that’s something that I’ve realized. As well as since it’s an initiative it’s apart of my job."

There are certain events that M.E.N. cannot participate in if the event is restricted to registered student organizations. Although, Daniels said the Center for Student Involvement is usually more than willing to help and involve his students.

M.E.N. also has to follow a certain branding style because it is within the Student Multicultural Center. The flyers and marketing for M.E.N. cannot be as creative as some of the student organizations marketing. The Male Empowerment Network is also not able to take advantage of allocations most student organizations are offered. If M.E.N. has to fund or hold an event, the money has to come out of the Student Multicultural Center fund.

Even though there are certain restrictions, Daniels believes there are more benefits than challenges it has being an initiative.

M.E.N. was specifically created to help men of color on campus and provide a community for them, but is open to any male identifying students on campus. The initiative aims to be an empowerment group and support the social, academic, personal and professional development of its students while also thinking about the different intersections of identities that can potentially be impacted for students of color at Kent State.

The Male Empowerment Network benefits its members by holding weekly sessions focusing on empowerment or networking. The initiative also holds fellowship events where members are given the opportunity to become closer with each other through a more casual and social setting. Some fellowship events are open to everyone and include opportunities for members to connect with people outside of the initiative. M.E.N. members also volunteer their time and do community service.

Senior fashion merchandising major, De’Von Gomez, a senior e-board member, reminisced on the importance the initiative had in his journey in helping him become more connected with himself.

“It helped me really to understand who I am as a person,” Gomez said.

The Male Empowerment Network is currently teetering on about 70 men who are involved in the initiative.

Being an initiative helps to guide M.E.N. on how to run their network.

“With our initiative it is always intentional that we talk about things we know that the black community or the Latino community or the Hispanic community or the Native American community needs to hear — what the mixed culture community needs to hear — needs to know,” Gomez said. “We’re setting the initiative to really help the needs of those involved.”

Madison Baughman is the diversity reporter. Contact her at mbaughm5@kent.edu

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