UCLA students forced to pay for ‘Toxic Masculinity Committee’
University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) students recently launched an underground committee dedicated to fighting “toxic masculinity” and “gender norms.”
The Toxic Masculinity Committee was formed in Spring 2018 by four female UCLA students in their capacity as Diversity Peer Leaders, who are paid $13 an hour to facilitate events such as “Unlearning Toxic Masculinity” “Bro, Let’s Talk.”
Aziza Wright is a UCLA senior studying African American Studies. In an interview with Campus Reform, Wright explained that she was captain of the Toxic Masculinity Committee last semester, and that roughly 25-30 students attended each event the committee put on.
“Students did come, they seemed very informed. Our thing was about facilitating, it wasn't about imparting all of this knowledge onto them,” she said. “Y'all signed up because you wanted to talk about race, and gender, and toxic masculinity.”
But while Wright and her team primarily aimed to serve as discussion facilitators, she did note that they all agreed upon an overarching philosophy.
“The harm of toxic masculinity is that it causes men to act in a harmful way towards others based on unattainable gender norms and impacts real life situations in a negative way,” explained Wright, who shrugged off a question about whether all masculinity is toxic.
The committee is currently on summer hiatus. It will resume in the Fall semester, but Wright says she’ll no longer be involved because she is seeking to reorient her time to academics, especially as she plans to apply to graduate school.
But the committee will live on in her absence, she said, noting that “other students will be involved…we’re just on break right now.”
Reached by email, the official who oversaw the committee, Anna Yeakley, stressed that students had the idea for the committee, not the administration. She also said that, in her mind, it was too early to tell if the Toxic Masculinity Committee will continue in the Fall.
“Since next year’s group will be a new set of Diversity Peer Leaders, it is hard to tell what the topics will be,” said Yeakley. Wright, on the other hand, disputed this, saying that it was her understanding that some original committee members would remain.
Students expressed mixed thoughts about the committee.
UCLA student Victoria Miller praised the committee for raising awareness of sexual assault during the recent events it hosted on campus, but also worried about the committee's attitude towards masculinity and lack of transparency.
“Men should decide what it means to be a good man. There is nothing wrong with masculinity. In fact, many women are attracted to it,” said Miller, a junior majoring in Russian who is also on the board of Bruin Republicans.
“UCLA is a public university. They should not be spending money on a committee that has to be kept secret. I support full transparency,” she added.
Louis Madrid IV, a senior studying history, criticized the program, saying that “toxic masculinity is a myth and when its brought up, it's always to disparage men.”
"Toxic masculinity ridicules men for just being men. Men and women are different both biologically and psychologically,” he argued. “For example, men generally engage in more physical aggressive contact sports like football to build male bonding.”
UCLA would not comment on the committee's cost, but the Diversity Peer Leadership Program—which houses the committee—has an estimated annual price tag upwards of $40,000, as Campus Reform reported last week.
Students are forced to pay for the program through the mandatory student activity fee, which costs each student $376 per quarter, or $1,126 every academic year for those taking classes full-time. At current rates, this amounts to $4,512 over the course of a standard four-year degree.
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