ISEC starts Why Knot Us Black Male Initiative at WKU
- Aurelia Spaulding
- Friday, October 23rd, 2020
On Sunday (Oct. 25), The Cynthia & George Nichols III Intercultural Student Engagement Center (ISEC) at WKU will induct 14 students into the Why Knot Us Black Male Initiative in the Downing Student Union Auditorium at 3 p.m. Why Knot Us is a targeted approach by ISEC to address the recruitment and retention of Black males.
“During the summer, our ISEC team met and we had a desire to increase our programming specifically with the minority males in ISEC,” said Student Success Program Coordinator Lamario Moore. “We noticed that the Black student enrollment has been on a decline at the university for several years. In 2018, WKU only enrolled 97 Black males. The Black male graduation rate is currently 62%, and this was a cause for concern.”
Executive Director of ISEC and TRIO Programs Dr. Martha Sales met with Cynthia and George Nichols immediately after the meeting to discuss what resulted in support for the current Why Knot Us Black Male Initiative.
ISEC serves as a hands-on recruitment and retention resource for the many cultural, religious/spiritual, and identity groups reflected within the WKU community. The center provides student support services to foster academic success and sponsors culturally-based celebratory events. Why Knot Us adds to the work of the Center since its purpose is to increase the sense of belonging of Black males through intentional programmatic needs. Through this, they will improve retention, impact, and quality of life through professional and personal development opportunities.
Moore added, “The goals of the program are to increase admission and graduation rates at WKU; improve faculty, staff, and student relationships; reduce the attrition rate of Black males at WKU; promote Black male involvement in student organizations. The biggest thing that we want them to take away from the program is that there is a support system here for you on campus.”
Why Knot Us is open to any undergraduate Black male at the university. Graduate students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate in the program as mentors.
WKU freshman Isaiah Hart II from Metropolis, Illinois joined the inaugural class for the program. "I wanted to be a part of the Why Not Us? Black Male Initiative because I saw it as a chance to join a group of like-minded Black men with goals and ambitions. I saw it as a great opportunity for mentorship and guidance throughout college."
The program will offer a variety of activities including a monthly networking luncheon, featuring a community member as a guest speaker. One day during the month, students will “dress for success” and wear their black suits and ties. This connects to the name of the program, Why Knot Us, in which "knot" is a metaphor for a tie and the bond that the program plans to build.
The Why Knot Us program will also partner with NPHC organizations and Building Men of Worth to facilitate Barbershop Talks and other social events. The men will participate in a Read and Lead series. Each semester, they will read an assigned book together and meet at different places in Bowling Green to discuss the book. At the end of each academic year, there will be a Black Male Leadership Conference for Black males on campus, local high schools, and in the community.
In addition to the induction of students, the ceremony will feature guest speaker Curtis Johnson and students remarks from Hart, Keimaunie Greathouse, Trey Parrish, Jashaun York, Austin Brown, and Darren Griggs
Sales said, “We are so thankful, grateful, and blessed to be connected to George and Cynthia Nichols. They are the epitome of Why Not Us! I mean look at them! Because of them and this program, which is because of them, these young men will know and believe, when in doubt---WHY NOT US!”
Fall 2020 inductees include the following:
- Joshua Brown, La Vergne, Tennessee
- Amante Cunningham, Paducah, Kentucky
- Mark Eric, Nashville, Tennessee
- Keimaunie Greathouse, Louisville, Kentucky
- Peyteign Green, Park Forest, Illinois
- Darren Griggs, Louisville, Kentucky
- Christian Harper, Crestwood, Kentucky
- Isaiah Hart II, Metropolis, Illinois
- Aune’trae Johnson, Shelbyville, Kentucky
- Jeremiah Morrow, Goodlettsville, Tennessee
- Trey Parrish, Glasgow, Kentucky
- Davon Taylor, Louisville, Kentucky
- DaShaun Van Cleave, Decatur, Georgia
- Jashaun York Covington, Kentucky
Students interested in joining the Why Knot Us Black Male Initiative can contact Lamario Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students must be in good academic and conduct standing to participate. Once in the program, they must commit to attending 80% of the programs and meeting regularly with the program coordinator or graduate assistant. Learn more at www.wku.edu/isec/whyknotus.