Black Male Initiative (BMI). What is it? Black Male Initiative is, in the words of its many members: a safe haven, a family, a brotherhood. In case you weren’t aware, NC State University is a PWI (primarily white institution). That means that not only are most of the students white, the culture is heavily influenced by the white community.
So, for minority communities, this means that we have to work even harder to find a sense of community. Black Male Initiative offers a solution to this.
Black Male Initiative is one of the Living and Learning Communities, or villages, offered on campus, currently residing at Avent Ferry. It offers an opportunity for black males to join a group with the sole focus of helping them succeed. At a PWI, an opportunity like this is rare.
BMI’s mission statement: Promoting brotherhood and developing leaders through academic success, personal growth, professional development, and self-responsibility. From the testimonials available on the NC State website for BMI, it can be concluded that they achieve this goal.
I had the opportunity to speak with Christian Wade, a 2nd year College of Agriculture and Life Sciences student and member of the village, who says that he estimates about 70% of the members in Black Male Initiative would not be at NC State University, if not for the home they found in Black Male Initiative. Each member of Black Male Initiative I spoke with, including Christian, said they would not be at NC State if not for BMI.
However, there is concern that Black Male Initiative may cease to exist soon.
It was made public at a Black Male Initiative meeting on Nov. 24 that Housing has an idea. Housing thinks it may be a good idea to make Avent Ferry, where Black Male Initiative is located, an upperclassman dorm only. They think this is a good idea because there have been complaints about the walk from Avent Ferry to main campus being too long.
As the mission statement says, Black Male Initiative’s goal is to promote growth and development. And, if Housing is to make Avent Ferry an upperclassman only dorm, that would mean a lot of underclassmen are going to miss out on an opportunity to participate in that growth and development.
“BMI [is] a housing village made to help black men that are freshman transition into college easily while housing the black lifestyle,” Wade said.
To exclude freshman from that would be to prevent the village from achieving one of its goals.
But there is a chance that the village can remain as it is. According to the members of the village, it is not an actual solution.
In order for Black Male Initiative to remain open to underclassmen as well as upperclassmen, the village will have to be relocated to Gold Hall.
Gold Hall is an all-boys dormitory located near the College of Design off of Pullen Road.
While this solution seems viable to Donna McGalliard, director of housing, the members of Black Male Initiative spoke on how moving away from Avent Ferry will signal the end of Black Male Initiative.
Amir Lawrence, a third-year in the College of Engineering and member of Black Male Initiative, commented on the situation.
“We tried to explain…that BMI and Avent are symbiotic,” Lawrence said.
Their explanation fell on deaf ears. In response to this claim, a housing representative told “55 BMI/Avent Ferry affiliated students that ‘BMI is the people, not the place. I believe you will be fine’.”
The housing representative in question actually has not been to Avent Ferry before. So, it can be concluded that the housing representative does not actually know about the culture and environment at Avent Ferry. Avent Ferry has been called the Hub of NC State’s black life. To Christian Wade, this is NC State once again disregarding the importance of black culture. To other members of the community, it feels as though a war is being fought against the black community here at NC State.
Recently, there was a political event held on campus. Turning Point USA’s “Culture War” with Charlie Kirk and Lara Trump came to NC State a few weeks ago. The speakers in question have been outed for having racist ideologies. Charlie Kirk even has ties to NC State through Turning Point, the group he founded.
However, this can all be viewed as citizens acting on their right to free speech. Still, to the communities affected by the actions of Laura Trump, Charlie Kirk, and Turning Point USA, it was viewed as an attack on them.
Due to these events, and others, racial tensions on NC State’s campus were running higher. Now, shortly after these events, housing is claiming to be changing Black Male Initiative because of complaints about the walking distance.
Furthermore, housing is ignoring the statements made by members of Avent Ferry Complex. Members stated how it the initiative is like family. Other statements made on how most of the members currently in Black Male Initiative would not be at NC State University if not for the existence of this safe haven.
Members of Black Male Initiative have made it clear to housing that to not allow underclassmen in Black Male Initiative will not allow the village to do what it set out to do. They have also made it clear that if Black Male Initiative is moved to Gold Residence Hall, it will eventually cease to exist.
So, to members of the black community, getting rid of Black Male Initiative is a clear attack on the black community as a whole. Unfortunately, the decision ultimately lies in the hands of the housing director, the same one who is seemingly ignoring what members of the village are telling here. However, there is still hope that BMI will survive. But for now, it seems there isn’t much to be done to prevent this decision from harming the village that so many in the black community have come to call home.