Brothers Reaching Out (BRO), a support network led by six counselors and campus staff, announced their plans designed to improve equity gaps faced by PCC’s male students of color, while seeking added collaboration with the faculty to get involved during a presentation to the Academic Senate (AS) on Sept. 23.
The six BRO members, from both general and athletic counseling, set out to research and work toward solving issues faced by men of color (MOC), they told the AS. BRO’s Antonio Del Real, Jamaar Walker, Trevor Brackett, Juan Pablo Carreon, Armando Duran, and Rohan Desai began by analyzing PCC student equity data.
The data for African American male students reveals results falling behind Hispanic males and Asian American males, the other groups in the men of color cohort.
In the 2017—2018 academic year, retention rate, which is any grade received at the end of a semester and includes D or F, was, for African American male students 80.1%, below the two other groups within MOC: 82.3% for Hispanic, and 87.3% for Asian American.
The completion rate is the actual number of awards received (degrees or certificate). According to PCC’s 2017—2018 data, African American males received 25, far below the Asian Americans’ 406 awards, and 501 awards received by Hispanic males.
BRO has already been meeting monthly to build more structure and develop events. The group members told the AS they have comprehensive ongoing contact with the Robert G. Freeman career center, the Stan Gray Academic Athletic Zone and other student support services including Ujima, The Puente Project, the Community Overcoming Recidivism through Education (CORE) program, and Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOP&S).
In addition to working through the data on the academic side, BRO also aims to offer counseling, mentoring, and social activities geared towards MOC to keep dialog open and build personal relationships. BRO intends to connect students to services and options for available support.
“I think this is the opportunity to be creative too,” said Walker. “The reality is that we have to change the game a little bit, and go to them.”
The six BRO counselors have begun drawing up administrative and curricular plans. Among them are campus wide engagement activities with faculty, creating a calendar, and establishing a transfer program.
The calendar is set to be released publicly later in Fall 2019. Members said they would like the calendar to encourage collaboration and input from around PCC. Ahead of the calendar’s launch, BRO discussed some upcoming events reflecting their program’s goal.
For October, BRO plans a Young African American Males Conference (Oct. 12); Oct a historically black colleges and university (HBCU) campus tour (Oct. 16—20); a Black and Brown Unity event in Creveling Loung (Oct. 24); and the Adelante Young Men’s Conference (Oct. 26).
The transfer program is a pilot for 2020. BRO told the AS it will be modeled after the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Accelerated Study in Associate Program (ASAP). That three year completion program aims to help their male students of color transfer to a four year institution. It also provides help with their career planning and offers assistance with financial aid at CUNY.
BRO sees a shared responsibility with the students and the staff. During the meeting, BRO acknowledged that staff members may not have had specific training to help the MOC. BRO members encouraged professors and staff to engage, be supportive of students and foster a sense of belonging.
Prejudging based solely on appearance is another specific concern BRO has.
“When I look at them, I always view myself, the type of student that I was, the environment which I came from,” said Brackett. “Once these students come into our classroom, whether they have their pants sagging or they have tattoos on them, we need to not judge them, and assure them that we are here for their actual success
PCC’s three-year student equity plan to close gaps is helping to guide BRO’s efforts.
“I think it is realistic if we all work together to close the gaps completely, and we intentionally do the work, and not just for the sense of looking at perceptions, purposes, but from our hearts, and do the work that we do,” said Desai. “We’ve seen just on an individual basis what that looks like.”