My job at AVfM is to act as a liaison for college students and faculty that want to put men’s rights on campus. I’ve received correspondence from students from Queen’s University, Umass Amherst, New Mexico Tech, and Fordham Lincoln Center, to name a few places.
The New Mexico Tech correspondence was particularly interesting because the inquiry came from the kind of sound, prepared mind that wants results. My emailed response follows the email body quoted below. It is my hope that this brief exchange will illustrate the kind of pragmatic thinking the MHRM needs to become an institutional force in academia. Please send your moral support to my friend at New Mexico Tech. —V. Zen
Dear Mr. Gerard,
I have emailed both accounts you have provided, as I am not sure how best to reach you during the summer.
First, let me introduce myself. My name is Tyler [FULL NAME REDACTED]. I am a rising junior in the Electrical Engineering department at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. The school website is nmt.edu. I work as a learning coach for the office for student learning. My job entails both tutoring numerous subjects and being a teaching assistant for a freshman class designed to give freshmen what they need to do well in college.
I have been studying up on what the Men’s Rights Movement’s is about for several months now. I have listened to a lot of the complaints put forth by the MRM and have become interested. I am particularly interested in the educational gender gap, suicide rates of men, and equal parenting rights. These aren’t the only issues I am interested in, though. My first idea was to give men on campus a male space to talk about their problems. Though this will help the men on campus, I want to do more.
I have searched through A Voice For Male Students, which has been a useful resource in creating an idea for how to advertise.
I want to create a men’s group on campus, but I have no idea on what the group should do. I know you are the leader and Founder of KSUM, so I wish to ask you for help on ideas for activism to create a successful group. If you could help me, or point me in the direction of help, I would be very grateful.
I am delighted to have this opportunity to advise you!
If you are serious about starting a group, then you have a lot of work ahead of you and I commend you for wanting to step up to the challenge. Like with any organization making itself known, you must know your audience and environment in order to adapt. You are not just looking for answers, but questions too. What are your departments? Who near you has the most “pull?” Where are the major points of foot traffic? And so on, and so on.
Since you are just getting started, I encourage you to read up on NMT’s basic facts to get a broad view of the campus community. Be very careful about how you interpret this data.
NMT is 68% male, which is not surprising since NMT does a lot of vocational STEM training. An optimist would say you have no shortage of members, but it is possible that men would not feel particularly repressed. Do not take this as an invitation to play the Victim Olympics by making men feel victimized, because that is not a good way to go about doing things. I’m not saying you would do that, but it can be tempting to use sensationalism to build echo chambers. Not good.
Since you are on an engineering campus, try framing everything in terms of problem-solving. Don’t say “our teachers are using bad textbooks!” Instead, ask students “how would you convince a teacher to change textbooks?” The questions are simple, pique the natural curiosity of STEM students, and may lead to profound answers that can make equally profound changes in the community.
You may be wondering about what problems you can solve. That’s for you to figure out, because you are limited to the local community. This is not a bad thing, but it is important to remember not to pursue lofty goals beyond your capacity (e.g. full institutional reform). On KSUM, we can’t reduce male suicide rates everywhere, but we can audit a course, lobby administrators and generally be a thorn in the ass when it counts.
I tell you this because another common behavior I see in people is this desire to solve the world’s problems due to a drunken, youthful passion. Have you ever seen people come together under the most universal recruiting tools they can come up with, only to pat each other on the back for “working towards equality” without actually doing anything? I know I have. Ditch hopeful ideals, because they fool you into thinking you’re productive sitting still.
Let me give you some information to get started:
You will be finding yourself inside the Department of Communication, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences much more often in the near future. Study their courses and knock on the doors of the instructors during their office hours to get to know them, and their research. (“Hi, my name is Tyler and I’m passionate about social issues. What you have published? What books do you use? etc.”)
Watch how they treat men and women. You may have noticed that the NMT Women’s Resource Center says, quite plainly, that “A Woman’s Place is in STEM.” Keep track of stuff like that, because it conveys attitudes that can be threatening to BOTH men and women on your campus. The WRC seems to be telling women what to do with their lives, and may resent men for being “in a woman’s spot.” Are schools supposed to prepare people for their own journeys, or tell students their place in society?
That’s one thread you can follow to learn more. Once you soak up a lot of information, try to make some work for yourself. If you think you can make a difference, then learn the policies for starting a student organization and start one.
NMT has only 22 organizations competing for student members, and none of them are direct competitors. You can even build relationships with the sports clubs to build your membership.
On my end, KSU has over 226 organizations, and a few of them are direct competitors [EDIT: This was a typo in the original email. It should read “indirect,” because there are no other men’s rights organizations on KSU.] On a marketing level, I wish I had your campus.
I think you have a real chance to start the first men’s rights student organization in New Mexico, don’t you?
Write me whenever you are stuck, confused, or otherwise in need of assistance. If I can help you make something happen, then I will.
I’m proud of you.
Collegiate Activism Director
A Voice for Men
Sage is the founder of Kennesaw State University Men (KSUM), the first AVfM-sponsored men’s rights student organization. KSUM needs your help to fund a conference on educational equity issues affecting male students. If everyone reading this donated $1 every hour, KSUM will reach its goal today. Will you part with just one dollar to put men’s rights on campus?