With numerous on-campus programs committed to supporting various factions of the student body, the UA is now welcoming an internship program unique to the male population.
Only one semester old, The Men’s Project was developed through the Women’s Resource Center by Krista Millay, the program director of the WRC. Millay said she has always wanted to offer a space for men to talk about masculinity and about being a guy at the UA.
“If we want college men to engage critically, become their own people and be allies to other identities, then we need to create a space for them to go through that same journey, just like other students get,” Millay said. “Just like all student populations, our college men need some support that is geared toward them. The reality is that they need a space to grapple with issues: The good, the bad and the otherwise. I don’t think that masculinity normally gets that kind of airtime.”
The Men’s Project is run as an internship program that requires ten hours a week from its interns in exchange for three academic credits per semester, Millay said. These hours consist of a team business meeting as well as a critical discussion of current issues within pop culture. The interns also participate in separate projects. In the spring semester, they participated in the planning of Take Back the Night and the development of the curriculum for “The MENS Workshop,” a judicial sanction through the Dean of Student’s Office.
“We hope to develop this program further so that it is also a leadership class that students can take — not just because they have been sanctioned to it, but because they are interested in these topics and want a space to explore them further in a positive and supportive setting,” Millay said.
Michael Webb, a gender and women’s studies senior, is one of the founding interns of the Men’s Project, which he defines as a “program that questions aspects of college male culture and perceptions of masculinity.” Webb said specific questions the organization strives to answer and address include, “What kind of gender stereotypes are in place in our society? What boxes are we putting people in, in terms of the range of expression that we are able to embody in our day-to-day life?”
Webb’s passion for these topics made for a successful first semester for the internship, and now, Millay said she is confident that Alex Karaman, a graduate student working toward his Ph.D. in gender and women’s studies, will continue to improve The Men’s Project as the graduate assistant for the 2013 fall semester.
Karaman was a political science student at Cal State University at Long Beach when he took his first women’s studies course.
He said “the perspective that the course offered on relations between people … was so much more in line with how he had viewed the world,” and he quickly added gender and women’s studies as a second major as a result.
As an undergraduate student, Karaman said he was involved in campus politics and often addressed issues relating to college rape culture and sexual violence. He said when he saw there was an opportunity for this kind of work to take place on the UA campus, he jumped at it.
Although he has new ideas for the fall semester, Karaman said that there have already been great strides made to make The Men’s Project a very “legitimate and central part of the university structure.” He said his goal is to continue these successful services.
For example, Karaman said The Men’s Project will continue to hold “The Men’s Workshop” a few times a semester that will be mandatory for students who are repeat offenders of the Code of Conduct — more specifically, those who have broken rules that seem to indicate the influence of college male culture, such as “issues of violence” or “sexual assault.”
“Our purpose is largely to show that there are men that are actively engaged in trying to change this rape culture,” Karaman said. “I want programming to be made available that is proactive rather than reactive.”