To Scarborough Campus Student Union, University of Toronto

To the Scarborough Campus Student Union, University of Toronto
I am in possession of a recent letter you sent to Jill Matus, Vice-Provost Students, which was also distributed to a number of other university officials, student unions and campus related news agencies.
In that missive you waged an attack on the Men’s Issues Awareness Group at the University of Toronto (which you erroneously labeled as the Men’s Rights Awareness Group) based entirely on fabrications of both the nature of that group and their actions. And while I have no official or even informal association with that group, your attempt to misrepresent reality about their actions is deserving of public attention and redress.
In your letter you accuse them of being a group “that demonstrates sexist, racist and homophobic views.” Curiously, you offer no evidence that this is the case. There are no citations, no quotes, no references to literature, no examination or analysis of rhetoric or any other discernible attempt to demonstrate that your charges are anything more than hollow, unsupported allegation.
Your letter even went as far to say, “The Men’s Rights[sic] Awareness group at U of T has been known to profile students and make students feel very unsafe at U of T.” Again, none of this was accompanied by even a scintilla of evidence or corroboration.
Sexism, racism and homophobia are overarching social maladies that mandate quick and assertive public repudiation, and the mentality that fosters them should not find an organized, sanctioned voice on a college campus. It is precisely because of this that specious attempts to demonize individuals and groups with this kind of mischaracterization similarly demands forceful condemnation. Our society can ill afford to chase red herrings given the very real problems we face.
I am not affiliated with the Men’s Issues Awareness Group at the University of Toronto, but I have watched their activities as closely as I can from the United States and I can find nothing in their words or actions that support the allegations you are making.
Their organization is affiliated with the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), whose mission statement, in part, reads as follows:
 

The Canadian Association for Equality is committed to achieving equality for all Canadians, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, family status, race, ethnicity, creed, age or disability.
In particular, we are interested in gender equality, that is on achieving equality for all men, women, girls and boys. While we support all efforts at achieving gender equality, we will work for balance and fairness within this societal project by focusing our limited resources on those areas of gender which are understudied in contemporary culture.

As you look through the literature provided by CAFE, as well as the events they sponsor, recruited speakers and topics, you find their activities are wholly consistent with that mission.
True to their promise to focus their limited resources on those areas of gender which are understudied in contemporary culture they specifically target the issues faced by men and boys in an attempt to further understanding and find solutions. As is also stated in their mission:
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The Canadian Association for Equality mandate for its Men’s Issues Awareness (MIA) Campaign:
Our focus will be to engage in consciousness-raising, public education and efforts to change public policy. We will engage in critiques of contemporary society as necessary, but our focus shall be on positive activism to advance a healthier society.
Major Areas of Concern
The following are an open list of areas of focus, in no particular order of importance:
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  • The “Boys Crises” (Education, Bullying, Suicide)
  • Workplace Issues (eg. Workplace safety)
  • Men’s Health
  • Family law and Fathers rights
  • Men and Violence (domestic violence, warfare)
  • Crime and Punishment/Legal Biases against Men
  • Media, Social and Cultural Misandry (hatred and contempt for men)
  • Academic Misandry (eg. in Gender Studies and Culture Studies programs)

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These are legitimate areas of concern for men and boys as well as the supportive, loving women in their lives, and all evidence on public record demonstrates that CAFE, as well as the Men’s Issues Awareness Group is making a good faith, intellectually sound effort to explore those problems in order to foster a more balanced, equal society.
I cannot, however, say the same thing for your organization based on your letter to the University of Toronto.
It appears, though one does have to read through the lines, that your fundamental objection to the activities and pursuits of the Men’s Issues Awareness Group of the University of Toronto is that they seek to explore what is clearly defined in their (accurately) represented name. They are seeking answers to the many perplexing issues faced by men and boys.
And your opposition to that cause, laced with invectives, unfounded allegations and lies, is clearly steeped in the very sexism you purport to expose on their part.
It is a very sad irony that you claim that the Men’s Issues Awareness Group “profiled” other students and made them feel “very unsafe.” The reality is that there is a substantial public record proving that the students who were made to feel very unsafe were the ones who tried to attend a lecture on the issues faced by boys sponsored by the Men’s Issues Awareness Group. Those students were openly bullied and harassed, facing doors being blocked by another students union at your university, apparently one with the same inclinations you are currently demonstrating.
This kind of violent and disingenuous opposition to the scholarly pursuit of understanding these issues can only be characterized as sexism, in its most virulent and destructive form. It should not be tolerated in any society that values equalitarian principles and the rule of law.
By writing this letter to the University of Toronto Administration, saturated as it is with disinformation and deception, you have effectively exposed yourself as hypocritical and hateful. I can only trust, given the University of Toronto’s previously demonstrated commitment to free speech and administrative integrity, that they will regard your letter for what it is; which is to say they will dismiss it as the unprincipled ranting of a hateful minority.
I can also add that I will be following this story with keen interest. The issues faced by men and boys are as worthy as any others in modern society. It is sad and quite shameful that organizations such as your own have become entrenched in the narrow worldview of bigotry and exclusion. Then again, you have provided yet another clear example of why the work of organizations like CAFE and the Men’s Issues Awareness Group at the University of Toronto is so vital and desperately needed.
Paul Elam, publisher
A Voice for Men

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