There are more salons surrounding the University of New Hampshire than there are barbers, and, as a result, men often have to travel farther off campus to find a barbershop that suits their needs. As noted by UNH Connect Coordinator Andres Meija, black students in particular have difficulty with this problem due to the fact that not all barbers are experienced with cutting and styling multiple types of hair.
On Thursday, Feb. 23, three barbers from Roxbury and Dorchester, Massachusetts set up shop in the Memorial Union Building’s (MUB) Wildcat’s Den for “The Shop!” event which allowed students to receive free haircuts in an attempt to “educate the UNH community on the history of the barbershop as a pivotal center of community building and information exchange in communities of color,” according to the event flyer.
The event, which was sponsored by Connect, OMSA, the Durham and UNH Police Departments, DSC, President’s Commission on the Status of People of Color, McNair, Seacost NAACP- Office of Community, Equity, Diversity- UNH sociology professor Cliff Brown, Center of Social Innovation and Enterprise and UNH Athletics, was held from noon to 7 p.m.
“It’s something we’ve talked about for a while now,” Brandon Thomas, assistant athletic director, academic support services coordinator and The Shop! co-event coordinator, said.
“Students always ask ‘How am I going to cut my hair?’” said Meija, who coordinated the event with Thomas.
At the event, students could come and sign up on a list to get their hair cut for free by one of three barbers. Students were only asked to provide barbers with a tip after the cut was finished. Though there were at least 230 students that showed up to the event, only about 160 students got their haircut, as some attendees had to be turned away due to lack of time.
There were even students who showed up just to immerse themselves in the barbershop environment. Students, whether or not they left with new haircuts, seemed to have had a good time at the event, as food, music and laughs were shared.
Both Thomas and Mejia said they planned on doing the event again.