Hood brings e-sports team to boost retention

In an effort to increase the retention of male students at Hood, an e-sports team has been created to encourage a sense of team for those who are not involved in athletics.
According to Travis Eichelberger, director of diversity and inclusion, a retention specialist, Teresa Furnam, was brought in to help Hood identify what groups of students are most likely to leave the college.
“Black males are the least retained group of students on campus,” Eichelberger said.
It was also apparent to the committee discussing the issue of retention that non-athletes are less likely to be retained than athletes. In order to address the problem, two committees were established: peer-mentoring and e-sports.
Eichelberger, ironically sits on the peer-mentoring committee. However, he has some experience in gaming, so he was brought in by Paige Eager, the head of the committee, to help establish the new team.
There was some resistance from faculty members about spending money on gaming due to the violence and the unknown legitimacy of e-sports, according to Eichelberger. Overall, the approach has not cost the college a great deal of money since the game den has an X-Box and, “SMITE,” the inexpensive game chosen to be used for the competition.
When choosing the game, they wanted to minimize the amount of first- person violence, sexism, and racism. Eichelberger, although not an expert on e-sports, will defend a program that will help students stay in college.
SMITE was chosen because it is team based and will be tied into other learning experiences. The violence it holds is also not ultra-realistic because staff needed to find a middle ground in what they were looking for.
According to Eichelberger, there was a lot of white-washing and more of a “Ken and Barbie” look to the game.
Currently, there are 28 people involved in the e-sports team at Hood. 17 of them are looking for a competitive team.
As of now, the e-sports team has started preparing for any in-house competition. It is unknown who will eventually fund the group.

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