By: Tyler Stansbury and Rebecca Smelkinson, Contributing Writers
Photo by Alex Wright / Towson University
Towson University’s (TU) Man 2 Man Club is a program aimed towards men of color for the purpose of providing students with a supportive environment while at school. The group was created by Raft Woodus, the former director of Student Success Programs, to specifically engage men of color.
The group meets weekly to discuss different topics going on in and around the community, and to show support for fellow students. The group serves as a bonding experience for men of color, as well as a resource for guidance regarding school and life in general. Man 2 Man is giving similar students across campus an opportunity to bond and create relationships outside of the classroom.
Facilitated by Roodinz Vital and Rafael Cordwell, the meetings are a safe-space for students to connect, learn and grow in an environment that speaks to their particular needs.
“Man 2 Man was created to support young men to not only graduate, but to be successful as they leave Towson as well,” said Vital.
Meetings consist of discussing pressing topics in the communities where the members come from, as well as various lived experiences.
“It is an opportunity to share where one another is coming from, and to identify growth and progression points through shared experiences,” Vital said.
One thing that is most important about Man 2 Man, is that it is a safe space for young men to be vulnerable, and truly let their hair down and express themselves.
“We are all kind of socialized to think that we have to figure it out all by ourselves,” said Vital. “When you are in a space like we have in this group, it is a time to understand what other men have been through, and connect and grow with each other.”
Student Jeremiah Catoe first heard about Man 2 Man from Tammie King-Kelly, the Interim Director and Coordinator of Student Success Programs.
Upon deciding to attend a meeting, Catoe was immediately glad he did. He was grateful for the opportunity to feel welcomed in a space where he could meet other men of color on campus.
“In Man 2 Man, I feel comfortable in a space that wasn’t always comfortable for me. There were a lot of black students at my high school, but I never really felt a connection to them like I do here,” said Catoe.
One of the things that Catoe mentioned that was most important to him about Man 2 Man is the fact that he gets to connect with other men of color that have been through some of the same experiences that he has.
“I have made so many great friends and mentors that I know are always supporting me and have my back,” said Catoe. “Man 2 Man has also impacted me socially, because I now have a big group of people who I know will hold me accountable, support me, and love me.”
Catoe wanted to extend his gratitude towards Rafael Cordwell and Roodinz Vital for making this program possible, and for making it so that many students like himself feel welcome and supported in a comfortable environment where they have the ability to grow and develop personally.
Co-facilitator Rafael Cordwell stressed the importance of representation for men of color to feel safe sharing their experiences and feelings with others.
“I think there are conversations and certain things that as men of color we go through that we think we have to deal with on our own, and I think from a counseling point of view it is always better when you have that conversation with someone else,” Cordwell said.
To allow students to have these conversations, men of color who are affiliated with the university have been coming in as guest facilitators.
Cordwell attributes strong mentor-mentee relationships within the club to students having mentors who look like them.
“There is a clear lack of representation and not many men of color that work at this institution, so one of the things that we are extremely proud of is how men of color within student affairs have all come together to be mentors for these men,” Cordwell said.
If you are a male student who identifies as a person of color and are looking to be a part of Man 2 Man, you can show up to any meeting, no sign up required. The group meets every Monday from 3:30-4:30 in the University Union, room 322. To read more about the club, click here.