Scores of well-dressed men filled Ceddia Union Building (CUB) Multipurpose Room (MPR) Nov. 9 snacking on sandwiches and fruit cups in anticipation for the first-ever B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. Summit to begin.
Shippensburg University’s office of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) men’s group B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. hosted an all-men’s summit in the CUB MPR, encouraging men on campus to attend in the hopes that they may gain some insight into surviving college and the professional world.
SU alumnus and B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. adviser Derrick Brown first took the stage and began his speech by conducting a workshop.
“I want every man in here to partner up with another man and tell them what you fear most, and what motivates you,” Brown said.
Answers ranged from “being able to take care of my kids when I am older” or “making my family proud.”
Brown continued his workshop by asking each individual man seat-by-seat why he went to the summit and why he is at Shippensburg University.
“If you want to get somewhere quickly walk alone, if you want to go even further take others with you,” junior Joey Alajlouni said.
“You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” Brown said. “And I don’t see any.”
Brown also paid tribute to MSA director Diane Jefferson and assistant director Kapri Brown, his wife, for their help with the summit and everything they have done for the organization over the years.
“B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. was founded by men, but has always been guided by women,” Brown said.
The first keynote speaker was Brandon J. Flood, secretary of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons.
“I think it is vital that we have events like this. I know a lot of us are thinking the same things, having the same concerns, the same issues, but often times we hesitate at vocalizing that,” Flood said. “But when we hear someone else, when we hear our fellow man, or colleague say the same thing, it allows us to take our guard down and more importantly, tap into those resources.”
During the keynote, Flood went over the four “Ds” that minorities may encounter in the professional world: Dismissed, discredited, demonized and destroyed.
Flood talked about the steps that can be made to combat these efforts of discrimination. “You put your best foot forward, you work your ass off, and you allow your work to speak for you,” Flood said. “What is understood doesn’t need to be said.”
Flood closed out his speech by encouraging those in the audience to become experts in their fields. “We live in a digital age now where even if we don’t know something, you can become a subject expert over the weekend,” Flood said.
Michael Williams, SU alumnus and professor of counseling at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), was the next speaker to take the stage and conducted workshops with the audience.
The audience moved to the back of the room and were forced to choose whether or not they were for a topic. The topics ranged from underage drinking, premarital sex and Lebron or Kawhi.
Williams then asked men to form circle groups to discuss their journeys thus far at Shippensburg. Questions posed included how they got to Shippensburg, who you left behind, how the transition was and what they struggled with.
Williams then asked men how they felt, and how they were viewed by their professors, peers and security on campus.
One SU student described a situation in which a police officer approached him and questioned him about an incident in which he had no involvement.
Another student referred back to the shooting that took place just weeks ago.
“Just because we’re black they assume we know who was involved and what happened, asking questions like, ‘Were they in a gang? Are there more of them?’” senior James Johnson said.
“Support each other but hold each other accountable,” Williams told the audience as he wrapped up. “Your success is my success.”
The final keynote speaker was SU alum Lavell Simpkins, professor of counseling at the Community College of Pennsylvania.
Simpkins kicked off his speech by having the audience rap the song “Dreams and Nightmares.”
“What steps are you taking in order to be able to build up your life and build up yourself?” Simpkins asked.
“Every day that you are in school, you need to be taking advantage of these opportunities because they won’t last forever,” Simpkins said.
“Every generation has a mission, and the question is are you all going to live up to it or destroy it?” Simpkins asked at the end of his speech.
The summit closed with all members of the audience linking arms and reciting the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. creed.