Written by Brice Hall
On Wednesday, February 5, a late night gathering of Maroons sat down for a hearty breakfast and critical discussion of masculinity and the male identity at 9 p.m. in the Beamer common room and kitchen.
“On campus, as a man, I wanted to host an environment that facilitated a healthy discussion on manhood. Thankfully, I was gifted with resources through RC Student Health and Counseling, Residence Life and Housing, and the RC Office of the Chaplain to host such a meaningful event,” said junior Donovan Hill, an RC Health Education Awareness Team (HEAT) peer educator.
Aptly named “Men’s Breakfast,” this series of conversations over breakfast food is a rebooted event that was started by Campus Ministry under Chaplain Paul Henrickson and continued by Chaplain Chris until 2016, when dwindling interest prompted the suspension of the program. The program was started to foster thoughtful examinations of topics impacting male development.
“I gained insight on what others think it means to be a man,” said Noah Jarret, a brother of RC Pi Lambda Phi.
Instead of being under the purview of just Campus Ministry, the revived Men’s Breakfast is now run collaboratively by RC HEAT Wellness Peer Educators, Campus Ministry and Residence Life and Housing.
This talk, the first of three in the series, focused on the phrase “Be a man” and the cultural significance it has. There was a video shown at the beginning of the event of men of all ages, ethnicities and walks of life discussing what that phrase meant to them. Afterward, those attending discussed conceptions of masculinity throughout childhood and ways in which a man’s upbringing can lead to a learned habit of emotional repression.
“This event really helped me get out of preconcieved notions of masculinity as my perspectives of a queer woman. Being a man, to me, is very based in the complications that masculinity has imposed on women and girls. But this discussion really fostered a gentle and thoughtful atmosphere to hash that out,” said sophomore Erica Gudino.
The atmosphere of the event was extremely relaxed and allowed for those in attendance to open up. Sophomore Emily Tompkins agreed with Gudino in that this discussion was healthy and prompted those in attendance to critically examine their gendered beliefs and notions.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are 3.54 male suicides for every female suicide. Aggregated survey results suggest that at least 1 in 3 American men feel lonely. This statistic is troubling, as current research suggests a strong correlation between loneliness and increased risk of alcoholism and substance abuse, heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, mental health issues, dementia and cognitive decline, poor self-care, disrupted sleep, lack of motivation and poor job performance, decreased resistance to infection, high stress levels, and even chronic diseases including diabetes.
On March 11, the second Men’s Breakfast will be held in the Shenandoah Multipurpose Room at 9 p.m. For more information, please contact Hill or Chaplain Chris.