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Diverse Male Scholar Initiative gives platform to men of color

The Diverse Male Scholar Initiative (DMSI) is a resource program from Humboldt State University and it is designed to support self-identified male students of color. DMSI aims to support students through academic -counseling, mentorship, and post-graduate opportunities for students to transition into the work field.

For student members like Benicio Benavides-Garb and Abraham Neri, it is more than a student resource, it is more of a lifestyle revolutionary movement.

“DMSI represents a safe space where I can be surrounded by a community of fellow men of color that has benefits like being surrounded by people who look like me and sound like me,” Benavides said. “It is a feeling of safety to the point where I can be vulnerable.”

The common connection male students of color have are systemic issues like racism, classism, the myth of meritocracy, etc. This common ground allowed spaces and initiatives like DMSI to become backbone support for these students away from home.

“It provides a platform for us to
be ourselves and learn about ourselves…”

Abraham Neri

DMSI has been at HSU since spring 2018 and continues to grow. Students involved with the program are given opportunities for employment like becoming a student assistant mentor for incoming participants and work side to side with faculty members of the initiative.

“It provides a platform for us to be ourselves and learn about ourselves, there are things about myself that I haven’t really came to terms with like toxic masculinity and the overlapping oppressions yet it all goes out the
window in spaces provided by DMSI,” Neri said.

This has been the core cause of the start of initiatives like DMSI. DMSI also provides a space of vulnerability for men of color to connect on a deeper level.

These concerns initially sparked the birth of DMSI at Cal State Dominguez Hills and inspired HSU to bring this resource to its campus.

“I identify as a Chicano man, I see and know the struggle,” Fernando Paz said. “I recognize the privilege of being a man but also the operating system of oppression and barriers male students of color uniquely face.”

Paz is one of DMSI core founders at HSU and a central committee member, who has dedicated his leisure time to fighting for the academic achievement and success of student members.

As student enrollment, retention, and graduation rates of white students continue to rise and when rates like male Native American, African American, and Asian American continue to decline or stay the same it begins to look like a purposeful trend.

ITEPP, Humboldt State University’s Native American resource center coordinator Adrienne Colegrove, spoke on the ways Native American male students are disproportionately affected.

“Who’s preparing our students for college? The counselors, teachers, and coaches. Who are they promoting? Who are they getting behind and support? A lot of our students are being neglected in high school and enter four-year colleges unprepared,” Colegrove said.

The initiative meets bi-weekly via zoom with various faculty members and staff involved. Individuals that would like more information can email them at dmsi@humboldt.edu.

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