Free haircut event seeks to improve student community
November 9, 2022
Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, an office at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, held a haircut event at the University Center on Oct. 11. The event, called Free Mental Health Haircuts, was a first for the organization and provided free haircuts to UW-River Falls students in the University Center’s Falcon Nest.
Derek Bradley, the interim director of DIB, helped coordinate the event. “It’s about providing these services for students that they didn’t necessarily recognize that they needed,” said Bradley in an interview. “This service is open to all students.”
“I was very excited about it,” Mayala Keita, DIB senator and the president of Black Student Union, said. “I would see students that I barely know come on campus and sit there and wait for their haircut.”
“You ask, who is going to cut my hair when you go off to college?” Bradley said. “It is totally different cutting hair with people who look like myself compared to other individuals, so finding barbers who can do that is important.”
Students were able to sign up for haircut slots or walk in. “For the first event, we had 17 students get an official haircut; however, there were more than 25 who signed up for it,” he said. According to Bradley, the November event has 26 students signed up, with slots available.
Free Mental Health Haircuts will become a monthly event, Bradley said, and expansions to the program are in the works. “I want to expand it as well with a couple of local barbers in town, to see how we can add that community aspect,” he said.
“I’m excited for the next event [in November] because we’ll be having a women’s stylist, and we’re working on the menu of styles that she’s going to do,” said Keita.
To make the haircuts free for students, funding for the event comes out of the DIB budget, Bradley said. Free haircuts are not the only thing that the event looks to provide.
“I remember one student who could not keep a smile off his face after he got his haircut,” Bradley said. “That’s all I wanted was to have that sensation for students, to feel better about yourself.”
DIB partnered with the company ClipDart to make the event possible. ClipDart also sends barbers to sponsored haircut events at other UW System schools, such as Eau Claire and Platteville, according to the company’s website.
Future Free Mental Health Haircut events are scheduled monthly and the next two events are scheduled for Nov. 9 and Dec. 6 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Falcon’s Nest.