Colgate’s Men of Color Success Network Returns for Second Semester in a Row

Every two weeks, barbers and hairstylists come to Colgate’s campus to cut and style hair for students of color, through an outside program called The Suite. This service is possible thanks to the Dean of Students, Dr. Dorsey Spencer Jr., Colgate’s Men of Color Success Network and The Suite Service. Five barbers currently come to Colgate, and their long list of services includes box braids, weaves, edges, haircuts and much more.

The kickoff event for The Suite Services and Colgate’s Men of Color Success Network took place on Oct. 3, 2021. Since its first event, two other barbershop-style events have been organized on Sunday, Oct. 17, and Sunday, Oct. 31, in James C. Colgate Hall from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The initial event, “Chop it Up,” featured free haircuts, music, and an alumni speaker, Rodney Agnant ’14. According to Spencer, founder of Colgate’s Men of Color Success Network, the group aims to promote a sense of belonging and wellbeing on campus, in addition to encouraging co-curricular engagement on campus and extra support for undergraduate men of color. 

“Within many Black communities, the barbershop provides more than a space to get a haircut. These establishments are a place to congregate, learn from one another, discuss various topics, and experience a sense of community and belonging,” Spencer said. “Our goal for the event was to create a similar environment for our men of color at Colgate.” 

Barbers from surrounding areas are scheduled to visit Colgate for the duration of the Fall 2021 semester. The University utilizes resources from The Suite, an independent organization that brings barbers and stylists from surrounding cities to college campuses. Their mission is to ensure students of color have access to providers who are experts at cutting and styling textured hair, according to The Suite Service website. 

The Suite first came to Colgate during the Spring 2021 semester, when students were not allowed to leave Hamilton due to COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, students of color could not drive to Syracuse or Utica to get their hair done by barbers and hairstylists professionally trained to style textured hair. 

Sophomore Mohamed Esmail recounted that many students, including himself, did not know about The Suite last year. Esmail acknowledged that finding community can feel challenging at a predominantly white institution like Colgate. 

“More people should know about places for people of color to come together,” Esmail said.

Esmail described the “Chop it Up” event as welcoming and productive, but did not believe that some of his Black peers were aware of the event. In the future, Esmail hopes to see more campaigning efforts for events like “Chop it Up” and services like The Suite. Darren Morgan, one of the barbers on-site, agreed with his sentiments. 

“Think of it as the best kept secret that should be put out,” Morgan said.

Morgan travels from Syracuse to cut students’ hair on-campus. In the future, Morgan hopes that the university will find a more permanent location for the event, as there is no set location for his services. Since traveling to Colgate, the location of the Men of Color Success Network meeting place has changed room numbers every time the group has met. According to Morgan, offering a set location could allow more students to access and learn about The Suite’s services and create an atmosphere that feels more like a traditional barbershop.

Morgan also described the barbershop as a place where every topic is discussed with no judgement. He reiterated how the barbershop can function as a space for Black individuals, and particularly Black men, to openly talk and bond with one another.

“What happens in the barbershop, stays in the barbershop,” Morgan said. At the time, junior Starlic Williams II was getting his haircut. 

“Be like the barbershop. Come in as strangers and talk and listen to each other,” Williams said.

Students can follow the Men of Color Success Network (@colgate_mcsn) and The Suite Service (@thesuiteservice) on Instagram to receive updates about upcoming events. Students can book an appointment using the link found in the Men of Color Success Network Instagram bio.