MISTER inspires support for minority men

The 2016 members of MISTER, organized by The Department of Multicultural Affairs, are dressed to impress in addition to breaking stereotypes using #blackmeninsuits. Various campuses throughout the United States participated in this initiative to change the way black men are percieved by society. MISTER is dedicated to creating a safe and inclusive enviromnent for Baylor’s minority men. Photo Courtesy of MISTER

By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer

MISTER, which stands for Males Inspiring Success Through Education and Relationships, is a support group for minority men at Baylor organized by the Department of Multicultural Affairs.

The group meets every third Thursday and aims to empower young minority males and help them succeed by providing a place to cultivate relationships, seek advice, discuss issues affecting them and, naturally, eat wings.

MISTER founder Geoffrey Griggs, assistant director of Multicultural Affairs, wants to give minority men a place to be themselves and discuss issues that matter to them.

“We created this group… almost six years ago as a program for minority males just to have a space on campus… to talk about things that affect them as individuals, whether it’s just going on campus here at Baylor, whether it’s going on in the Waco community, whether it’s going on in the world, you know, different aspects and things of that nature,” Griggs said.

Another goal when Griggs started MISTER was giving these men a better chance to succeed. According to Griggs, MISTER delivers results.

“It seemed to show a benefit for the students… it has helped them not only socially but academically as well,” Griggs said.

McKinney junior Konnell Woods attended Thursday’s MISTER meeting. Woods was a regular at meetings last year and feels that it’s essential to have a group like MISTER built around minority men.

“It’s a great experience, and it’s just good to know other people that look like me are also able to go to [MISTER] for help,” Woods said. “As a minority on campus you need a place to be authentic to who you are… a lot of times we have to be one way in the face of everyone in the community at Baylor and then when we come back to our private settings… we can be our true selves.”

Thursday’s meeting was the first of the year and the first time many attended a MISTER meeting. Part of the reason why Woods came back to MISTER was to return the favors given to him by the more senior members during his first year with the group.

“It was great for me to be able to meet people [like] upperclassmen that… could give me advice about the do’s and the don’ts when it comes to what to do at Baylor,” Woods said. “That’s why I come back—to be able to be a resource to the freshmen and then again to talk about what’s going on with my life.”

Griggs was inspired to create MISTER by his time in college; he wanted to provide minority men at Baylor with a similar experience to what he had during his undergraduate years.

“I was actually a part of a similar group when I was an undergrad student at the University of Kentucky,” Griggs said. “It was very meaningful to me to create something like that here because I know how the support when I was an undergrad helped me, and I wanted to be able to provide that same support here at Baylor.”

Griggs also said MISTER works to combat negative stereotypes about minority men. Since its inception, MISTER has expanded.

The group now works beyond Baylor, including meeting with Connally Elementary School’s Modern Gentlemen group, which teaches young boys the importance of respect and manners.

For more information on MISTER, visit the Department of Multicultural Affairs’ website.