Are Men’s Resource Centers Necessary?

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A subject that recently piqued my interest is the new movement at Clark University to add a men’s resource center on campus. Recently, on April 14th, there was a forum open to all students who wished to learn more about this new resource center, ask questions, or voice their opinions. This forum was led by Clark faculty member Dr. Michael E. Addis whose research for the past 17 years has largely been focused on masculinity and men’s mental health.

Dr. Addis opened discussion explaining that it was the University Administration who had approached him for his take on how to solve several on-campus issues concerning male students such as high attrition, excessive partying, and lack of use of counseling services. Since the University’s request, Addis has been constructing his proposal for a men’s resource center on his own time while receiving absolutely nothing in return. Despite being only the volunteer harbinger, Dr. Addis was riddled with accusatory questions and comments such as “Why a men’s and not a women’s resource center”, “Why are we not considering the LGBTQ community”, “Why are we only hearing about this now?” – All questions that could be much better answered by Clark University administrators.

A male student in attendance made the point that perhaps the fact that most men aren’t using on-campus counseling service is reason enough for the addition of a men’s resource center. In response Michael Addis clarified that a new men’s resource center would not be a counseling center, but instead a well of knowledge containing anything from movies to modern day research regarding masculinity.

This resource center would mirror the many attempts to support male students at schools across the country, as male collegiate performance has become an increasingly widespread issue. Between 1947 and 2005 male college enrollment has plummeted from 71% to 43%. Between the years of 2005 and 2002 enrollment rates indicated that an incoming freshmen class often lost around 4% of their male population by the time graduation rolled around (Conger et. al, 2008). I could keep throwing statistics out there, but it seems there is plenty of evidence indicating that males are simply not flourishing in college anymore. What is more concerning is how little known these facts are- and how little has been done to remedy this rather overlooked problem.

Addis believes that having resource centers for men would encourage male students to “acknowledge their vulnerability and develop a respect for each other and oneself.” Though a clear step in the right direction, I also believe other on-campus populations (such as the female and LGBTQ communities) deserve a specialized support system as well. I don’t think it unlikely that in the near future Clark University will start investigating how to better support other communities on campus, but Michael Addis explained that since there is always so much going on at the University “Clark is a limited resource kind of place.”

It was made abundantly clear through Addis’ forum that in order for changes to happen, or for projects to come to fruition, there needs to be student and faculty support. What do you think about specialized resource centers? Raise your voices and start talking about things that matter!

 

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