Mountaineer statue closeup.  (WVU Photo/Brian Persinger)

Mountaineer statue closeup.  (WVU Photo/Brian Persinger)

A new WVU organization is coming to campus with the goal of connecting and empowering students of color.

M-Power, a mentorship program developed by WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Athletics, RISE WVU, LGBTQ+ Center and Student Engagement & Leadership, aims to create a community that allows students and faculty of color to connect.

“We have to make sure that there are particular spaces and programs that affirm students’ identities and also provide support and opportunities to talk about those identities,” said J. Spenser Darden, WVU director of diversity initiatives and community engagement.

Darden said members of the organization will discuss topics relevant to student development such as what it means to be successful in the workplace. He said they also plan to hold discussions on current events that may have a direct impact on students of color, such as Black Lives Matter and renaming confederate memorials.

Students can choose from three different M-Power groups: one group is for women, one is for men and another is for queer and trans people of color. 

Darden said although outings and activities will be limited this coming semester due to COVID-19, the program hopes to include social gatherings when it is safe to do so. 

Despite the challenges with starting a new program in the midst of a pandemic, it has brought benefits to the program as well. Because many of the meetings will be conducted via Zoom, students at Potomac State College in Keyser and WVU Tech in Beckley will be able to join in as well. When in-person meetings resume, program leaders plan to find ways to keep those students connected.

One of the program’s biggest goals is to fill in the gaps of similar programs on campus. Because many other programs offer academic support and opportunities to students of color, M-Power plans to offer a community and a space to socialize. 

“Not every program can do everything,” Darden said. “We need multiple programs that overlap in order to fulfill all the needs of our students.”

Students interested in registering for the program can visit the WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website.