The Men’s Center over at the University of Oregon has shifted its mission from promoting nutrition and wellness to “reconstructing masculinity,” while highlighting the particular importance of educating “cisgender or white men” about “social justice.” The stated goal of this mission is to “to use social justice to end male violence, dismantle systems of oppression, and reconstruct what we know masculinity to be.”
According to University of Oregon sophomore and Men’s Center Student Director of Programming Maya Auld, “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.”
In 2002, the Men’s Center was first created by students at the University of Oregon. It was intended as a center for resources regarding healthy living, nutrition, and wellness. However, two weeks ago, the Men’s Center announced that it will now focus on applying “social justice” to combat masculinity or “what we know masculinity to be.”
“Our focus is to use social justice to end male violence, dismantle systems of oppression, and reconstruct what we know masculinity to be,” according to the February 11th statement from the Men’s Center. The announcement added that “for far too long men have been absent from the discussion of social equality.”
Auld explained to Campus Reform that the Men’s Center is a physical office on campus which employs four-stipend students and one school administrator. The Center also hosts events for students on campus, conducts weekly meetings, and provides drop-in hours.
The Center’s director of programming added that “there’s forces that (masculinity) puts on other people, such as gender inequalities” and therefore reconstructing masculinity is “very important.”
Auld pressed upon the importance of reconstructing masculinity as those who identify as men often have “issues with expressing emotions clearly, communicating, [and] speaking up,” and “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.”
There aren’t many Men’s Center activities planned yet, but when they do hold events, they generally attract a large audience. According to Auld, roughly 20 students regularly appear at weekly meetings, about 50-60 students show up for film screenings, and 200-300 converge for the Center’s flagship annual events.
Much of the funding for the Men’s Center comes from mandatory fees paid to the student government office, according to Auld. She added that the Center is also allocated space and some funding from the administration.