Pictured (from left to right): Ricky Perkins, Armstrong Campus Member; Dante Marion, Armstrong Campus Member; Zion Dancer, Statesboro Campus Secretary; Anthony Bibbinbs, III, Statesboro Campus Executive Director; Kennijah Martin, Statesboro Campus Scholarship Committee Chairman; Nicolas Burke, Statesboro Campus President; Joshua Lane, Armstrong Campus Member; Brandon Collins, Statesboro Campus Vice President; Justin Cosby, Armstrong Campus Member. Photos Courtesy of Maurice Nelson
Men of Vision and Excellence (MOVE) is Georgia Southern’s African American Male Initiative, a program that is sponsored by the University System of Georgia (USG). The goal of the initiative is to increase the retention, progression and graduation rates of African American males throughout the state of Georgia.
“There’s a bit of a history with the program in the African American Male Initiative, which is the grant from the University System of Georgia, that supports MOVE, but on our campus, here in Statesboro, it was formally the Student African American Brotherhood (SAB),” said Maurice Nelson, coordinator of diversity education and program outreach for the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) and advisor for Men of Vision and Excellence (MOVE).
Nelson has been the advisor since October 2018.
When the OMAs on the Statesboro and Armstrong campuses combined, the two organizations came together and the new MOVE was born.
The goals of the program are reached through four key foci: academic skills enrichment, leadership development, mentoring and student support services.
In Fall 2019, there were 126 active members on the Statesboro campus. Since then, the program has experienced growth through spring recruitment. The group is in the process of reconciling exact numbers, but has estimated that there are currently 150 active members.
Nelson said that recruitment for the organization happens perpetually throughout the semester, but that there are also dedicated recruiting efforts at the beginning and end of every semester.
Membership is voluntary, and there is no cost associated with joining, because the organization is grant funded. Additionally, the program is supported by the OMA. However, students do make a commitment to be actively engaged in the program.
“If, for some reason, we find that students aren’t engaged just based on their participation then we can actually reach out and just find out what kind of challenges may be preventing that,” said Nelson.
The terms of being an active member are specifically spelled out. The engagement of each member is tracked because being involved allows them to get the intended benefits of the initiative.
Nelson said that it is understandable that members will not be able to come to every event, but that in order to get the benefits of the program, the general expectation is that members attend at least two thirds of the program to be considered active.
Being an active member includes different things. One such thing is attending the weekly meetings of the organization.
The formality of the meetings alternates. Some meetings are formal business meetings, talking about the business of the organization, and other meetings are brotherhood meetings, which are all about bonding and team-building.
Another membership requirement is making an academic plan, where the students sit down with Nelson or with graduate advisor Chris Hill and write out an individual academic mission and three measurable academic goals. The students also make out weekly schedule to map out their days and chart their academic success. Nelson said that this requirement is actually the foremost important requirement.
The members also take part in community service activities. Members are asked to complete at least two hours of community service per month, which is the equivalent to attending on of the organization’s community service initiatives each month.
As part of this community service, MOVE does a campus clean-up after every home football game. They also do work with Habitat for Humanity, Restoring the Breach, with Statesboro Public Library, Trick-or-Treat at Mill CreekTrunk or treat?, landscaping and facility management at YMCA, Fostering Bulloch, among other opportunities around the community.
The last requirement of memberships is to join one of the organization’s committees. There are six committees to choose from. Nelson said that this is where the members are doing most of their active work because they are going to sub-committee meetings and working as a team.
In order to join, students just have to be interested. There is no GPA requirement.
“The goal is for us to help enhance their GPA and academic performance, regardless of where the starting point is,” said Nelson. “So, if you’re already really strong in that area, then we’re going to try to help make you stronger. If you’re having issues in that area, we’re going to try to fill that gap and help you improve.”