The Royal Treatment: EMU’s newest student space

By Lauren Jefferson | May 30th, 2019

Mark Loving III ’19 gives Associate Track and Field coach Erick Camodeca a cut. The new student lounge space, with barber’s chairs and a hairwashing station, is a favorite late night spot managed by the Black Student Union.

EMU’S NEWEST STUDENT SPACE – a barbershop and salon space dubbed “The Royal Treatment” – opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony during the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in January. The cozy room, managed by members of the Black Student Union, includes barber’s chairs, a hairwashing station, television and two couches, enlivened by a mural celebrating African and African-American culture. The new equipment and renovations were supported by generous donors who helped the project gain full funding on EMU’s crowdfunding site in record time.

BSU members called The Royal Treatment a major milestone in university history. Senior Jessica Washington, the club’s secretary, said she never imagined “something like this” when she arrived on campus four years ago. “This is a real blessing.”

“This is much more than a barbershop. This is a sanctuary,” said senior Jourdyn Friend, BSU vice president. “Your hairdresser is more like a counselor, there to talk about your problems… This space is progress towards recognizing not just the majority but also the minority. This is a symbol of our voice being heard.”

BSU co-president Jakiran Richardson, a sophomore, views the new space as the university’s way of showing empathy and understanding for students of color who must adapt to a predominantly white campus culture. “We understand what you’re going through,” he translated. “Here’s something to show our appreciation for you being here and that we are about who you are.”

Erick Camodeca, associate cross country and track and field coach, went to get a “temp fade” from senior Mark Loving III, who used to offer haircuts in his campus apartment but now has a more professional space to work. Camodeca arrived last summer, but his experience at four other universities has given him a critical eye. The new space, he said, “sends out a message that this university does care, that we are making a commitment to diversity and to our students.”

The barbershop is “all about community, one of EMU’s core values,” Camodeca added. “What better place than a barbershop where people of all diversities and backgrounds can share an experience and learn something.”

Junior Ariel Barbosa, co-president of Latino Student Alliance, remembered barbershop visits with her dad, who has both African and indigenous Brazilian heritage. That same feeling of “being at home there” in the barbershop of her childhood is one she hopes will be shared here. “I’m excited that students are at the center of this project,” she said. “I just envision this as a space that will be one of true diversity, where people of all hair types will find a place.”