Colleges lack evidence that 'men's projects' reduce violence

Colleges are increasingly offering programs on the dangers of masculinity, but none of the schools contacted by Campus Reform could say whether the efforts are effective.

A Campus Reform analysis identified five currently-active men’s programs on American college campuses. These programs pledge to teach men to combat issues such as “toxic masculinity,” “rape culture,” and “violence against women.”

These five programs include NU Men at Northwestern University, Duke University’s Men’s Project, the Men’s Project at the University of Connecticut,  the Men’s Project at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the Missouri State University Men Addressing Social Construction program.

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But while these programs claim to be effective in reducing violence against women, none of the sponsoring colleges were able to direct Campus Reform to any institutional or academic research indicating the effectiveness of their programs.

Jeni Cook, the media relations manager at UNC-Chapel Hill told Campus Reform that they designed their Men’s Project “around best practices utilized by various other colleges and universities, which are demonstrated by data to be effective.”

However, she did not specify what these “best practices” are, nor did she cite the specific “data” that demonstrates their effectiveness. Cook did not respond to multiple requests for clarification.  

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Andrea Mostyn, a media official at Missouri State, admitted that it was “too early to know what effects” their men’s project might have on students, since this is the program’s first year. She did indicate that the program was based “upon research conducted by Schaub and Williams,” but expressly declined to cite a particular study.

Campus Reform also reached to media officials at Northwestern University, Duke University, and the University of Connecticut, but none responded to requests for comment on whether their school’s men’s projects actually reduce violence on campus.

The University of Wisconsin also played host to a Men’s Project for a year, but it was quietly shuttered after it became the subject of critique from the media and lawmakers. UW-Madison media official John Lucas was also unable to cite any evidence that the program was effective in reducing gender based violence.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen