African American campus group expands

IUS Horizon

Treavor Martin
Treavor Martin, criminal justice freshman and SAAB chair of social and spiritual development, during an organizational board meeting.

The Student African American Brotherhood is a national organization, consisting of more than 200 chapters on college campuses and high schools in 39 states.

SAAB is not a fraternity — a point they want to make very clear.

“We’re not an organization that throws parties,” IUS SAAB president James “Bobo” Young, undecided sophomore, said. “We’re here to help the young men stay in school.”

SAAB was founded in 1990 by Tyrone Bledsoe, in hopes of creating an environment for African American men to thrive as students and as citizens.

The IUS chapter of SAAB was just started in the Fall 2009 and currently has 15 active members.  They also have a pool of 30 potential members currently in the application process.

“We needed something here for the young men, because we have so many young men dropping out,” Young said.

IUS SAAB chapter vice president Glenn Kennedy, education sophomore, found out about the organization when he was nominated for his position by a faculty member.

“I went to the first meeting and have been coming back ever since,” Kennedy said.  “It’s people helping people.”

Chapter secretary Kenneth Woods, biology senior, discovered SAAB through an e-mail he received about a Bledsoe speaking engagement.  He heard him speak and knew he had to get involved.

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” Woods said.

SAAB has a nine-member executive board, which meets every Thursday at 12:30 p.m. in University Center North, room 128.

The meetings allow board members to discuss upcoming events, such as their monthly town hall meetings, held in the IUS Library, where anyone from campus or the community can come and hear the SAAB message or vent their own concern.

Mike Woodson, secondary education junior, works in the Activities Building as an official for intramural sports and is the public relations officer for SAAB on campus.

He said his experience with SAAB has been nothing but positive.

“It’s a step toward change in my life,” Woodson said. “I’m more mature now.”

SAAB also has a policy about dressing professionally and uniformly, both to gain respect from the community and to ensure members feel confident.

“It makes you feel better when you’re dressed up,” Woodson said.

SAAB’s chair of social and spiritual development Treavor Martin, criminal justice freshman, echoes this belief.

“We don’t want young men running around showing their butts,” Martin said.  “If you look good, you feel good.”

Martin returned to school after 27 years in the work force and said he believes his life experiences and those of fellow non-traditional student, Young, can be helpful in guiding the younger members.

Each board members meeting begins with all the members standing and reciting an oath in unison.

The oath begins with the SAAB motto, “I am my brother’s keeper and together we shall rise.”

The members continue by reciting the values of the organization — accountability, proactive leadership, self-discipline and intellectual development. The oath closes the way it began, with the SAAB motto.

It’s these values that govern everything SAAB does. They do community service, such as volunteering at local schools and serving as big brothers for children in the area.

One Sunday each month, all the members attend a local church service together.

They organize study groups in the IUS Library on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The study groups are open not only to SAAB members but to anyone wishing to attend.

While the organization name seems to leave out men of other races, Young said that is not the case.

“This is a diverse campus and we allow all young men to join,” Young said. “Anybody who wants to join, come and see us.”

There is also a Student African American Sisterhood organization, which Young said could create an IUS chapter if enough women showed interest.

The campus chapter of SAAB will be attending the SAAB National Conference at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis from March 26 to 27.

A member from IU Southeast has been given the honor of introducing the keynote speaker of the conference.

Though SAAB does not throw parties, they do have events to raise awareness of their group and raise money, both crucial to the success of any organization.

Later this spring, they will be hosting a barbecue cook-off near the IUS Lake.  Food will be on sale to everyone, with students only paying half price.

By DERRICK HOLDRIDGE

Staff Writer

dvholdri@umail.iu.edu