“Issa standard” is a saying that united the members of the Black Men of Standard (BMS) at Seton Hall on the evening of Nov. 29 in the McNulty Amphitheatre. Dozens of students, dressed in suits and ties for the event, “Think for Success Dress for Success.”
The event was created and led by Professor Donnell Pierre, who initiated BMS in 2010. For the event, BMS partnered with Gentlemen of Leadership and Distinction (G.O.L.D). Members of both organizations came together through opportunity to dress up for a whole day, as part of the “standard” they all follow.
“We have certain expectations of the guys,” Pierre said. “We try to hold each other to that standard. Ultimately, [that standard] helps fight against negative stereotypes, not just for black men, but for all men of color and any stereotypes.”
According to Pierre, men of color, who statistically have lower graduation rates, are who he targets with BMS. “Think for Success” is just one of the many monthly events that BMS holds to motivate these men academically.
In the amphitheater, members greeted one another with laughter, smiles and hugs, signifying brotherhood.
Students wore business casual suits and some made fashion-forward outfit choices like camouflage dress shoes, deep red or navy blue velvet blazers with matching pants. At one point, students were hyping each other up, throwing compliments at each other.
Standing in front of the dozens of well-dressed students, Darrell Terry, president and CEO of Beth Israel Hospital and a Seton Hall alumnus, spoke about challenges he faced going to college and what motivated him to continue.
“Being a young black man is hard,” Terry said. He said his motivation to continue through difficult times stemmed from three things: faith, family and focus. He added that, without those things, life would be devastating for him.
“When he said his mother passed away, his father passed away and his brother passed away, he had to overcome so much pressure of going to school and stuff like that,” said Jonathan Craan, a senior journalism major student and member of BMS. “That inspired me because I see strength in people like that.
“The most important thing that I connected with is to never give up. To never lose hope, (know) that no matter what it is that you’re going through, as long as you keep God first, you keep real people around you and family and friends, that it will get easier.”
Jerry Walker, president and CEO of Team Walker and a SHU alumnus, talked about the importance of having confidence and making oneself proud.
“It was very motivational,”said Jonathan Green, a freshman sociology major and member of BMS. “From where I’m from we don’t have a lot of speakers of color come back and just talk to the brothers and just tell them what they can be in life.”
Although BMS started as an avenue for black men specifically, Pierre said it’s not just for black men. He said anyone can join BMS and that it is inclusive.
“In this organization we will make you feel like you’re just at home,” Green said. “We provided the seed for everyone to come in. We just ask (potential members) to keep watering your own seed for yourselves to grow.”
Marianne-Grace Datu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.