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Queensborough Community College will launch its Male Resource Center in fall 2023.

Queensborough Community College

To increase enrollment and retention of male students, Queensborough Community College in New York is investing in a Male Resource Center, aimed at its smallest populations of Black and Latino men to create equity, President Christine Mangino says. The center, expected to open this fall, will provide resources, mentorship and a communal space for male students.

“We’re closing equity gaps for students, creating a culture of care across the campus for students and for colleagues,” she explains.

Creating equitable community: QCC has a poor retention rate for its male students and specifically Black male students, Mangino says.

The problem isn’t unique to Queensborough. Across higher education, female students outnumber their male counterparts 58 percent to 41 percent, according to 2022 data from the National Center for Educational Statistics. At community colleges, the ratio grows, with nearly three women to every two men.

The pandemic exacerbated the problem, and Black and Latino men have been especially impacted, explains Amaris Matos, assistant vice president of equity, inclusion and belonging.

As a commuter college, QCC also faces the challenge of making campus engaging and socially attractive for its students, something Mangino and Matos hope the Male Resource Center can help with.

Their focus is on “what can we do to make this campus be somewhere students want to be, and when they want to be there, because they’re engaged socially, then that’s how we link them to the services,” Matos says.

The blueprint: The college had smaller “boutique” offerings for its male students—like a part-time coordinator and a few peer mentors—but the creation of a larger center will allow for a central location and full-time program coordinator.

Education access is a priority for the Male Resource Center. Students often encounter barriers when completing enrollment or financial aid forms—such as needing a parent’s Social Security number or financial information.

“There are ways around all of that, but they’re afraid to ask,” Mangino explains.

The new center will be housed in the Student Union, “creating a pocket that’s a place for community within a space that already exists,” and establishing this is a long-term commitment, Matos says.

In addition to the space and a full-time coordinator, the MRC will increase its number of peer mentors who offer guidance and support to male students.

With its current programming, Queensborough saw a 5 percent increase in Black men’s retention from one semester to another since spring 2020, and officials hope that, in 18-months’ time, the MRC helps 300 students.

Finding funding: To fund the center, the college received a $450,000 grant from the Robin Hood Foundation, a New York City–based nonprofit.

The grant, which will be distributed over 18 months, is a result of the University of Southern California’s Equity Institute, an eight-week workshop that examined QCC’s programs geared toward Black and Latino males.

The college also received an additional grant from Alliance Bernstein of $30,000 for construction and equipment (furniture, technology, etc.).

Can you see me? Part of establishing equity at the college is also being intentional about the role models present, Mangino says.

“If you look at the number of Black male faculty that we have and then how many actually make it to full professor … our Black male students see themselves more in our public safety, in our buildings and grounds [teams] than they do anywhere else on campus. And we need to be committed to changing that,” Mangino says.

Retaining male students is key to creating a cohort or class that represents them as well.

Helping these students succeed at QCC is more than retention, Matos emphasizes, but instead providing a safe community and a positive experience they take with them postgraduation.

Looking ahead: While Queensborough is targeting the male demographic to start, officials hope to further expand opportunities for women and LGBTQ+ students in the future.

“We’re starting where the data indicates is the most urgent need right now, while we build out other support for other populations on campus as well,” Matos says.

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