College Men’s Center to focus on ‘reconstructing masculinity’
The Men’s Center at the University of Oregon recently overhauled its mission and is now dedicated to “reconstructing masculinity” on campus.
Founded by students, the Men’s Center has served as a hub for resources on healthy living, nutrition, and wellness since 2002. But two weeks ago, the Men’s Center announced it was pivoting its focus towards using “social justice” to fight masculinity.
“Our focus is to use social justice to end male violence, dismantle systems of oppression, and reconstruct what we know masculinity to be,” the February 11 statement reads, asserting that “for far too long men have been absent from the discussion of social equality.”
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In an interview with Campus Reform, Men’s Center Student Director of Programming Maya Auld explained that the shift in focus was triggered by growing awareness of how men need social justice to become better allies to women.
Instead of the old focus on nutrition and healthy living, Auld said, “it's much more important that men, especially cisgender or white men, have a better educational understanding of what social justice is and get involved.”
Auld, who is also a sophomore at UO, explained that the Men’s Center is a physical office on campus staffed by four stipended students and one school administrator. The Center hosts weekly meetings, drop-in hours, and events for fellow students on campus.
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Reconstructing masculinity is “very important,” Auld told Campus Reform, saying, “there's forces that it puts on other people, such as gender inequalities.”
Further, she argued that reconstructing masculinity is important because people who identify as men often have “issues with expressing emotions clearly, communicating, [and] speaking up.
“In terms of deconstructing masculinity we try to break down those walls, and not talk to the man in front of us, but the person in front of us, without regarding things like gender violence and other problems we see in the world,” she added.
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Since the Men’s Center will host most of its programming in the upcoming Spring semester, it doesn’t have many activities planned yet, but Auld said the Center’s events are typically well-attended, with roughly 20 students at weekly meetings, 50-60 at film screenings, and 200-300 students at its flagship annual events.
The Center is funded primarily by the mandatory fees paid to the student government office, but it also receives space and some funding from the administration, said Auld.
Campus Reform reached out to the University of Oregon for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen