Simon Fraser University looking to open "safe space" for men

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
Simon Fraser University looking to open "safe space" for men

And they're getting 30K to do it...

Quote:
Last Wednesday, the financial and administrative services committee for the Simon Fraser Student Society unanimously passed a recommendation that approximately $30,000 be put aside for the creation of a men’s centre. Treasurer Keenan Midgley initiated the project. He told The Peak that the proposed center is meant to be a space where men can discuss issues that might arise in their undergraduate careers at SFU.

“There are a number of issues that men face that they don’t really feel comfortable talking about in a formal setting. Whether it’s dealing with alcoholism, drugs, or an abusive relationship. Whether it’s themselves who are in it or emotionally not being able to cope with things,” said Midgley. Instead of a formal venue, such as the walk-in clinic in the Maggie Benson Centre, Midgley thought that a place where men can “bounce ideas off each other” would be more beneficial.

Midgley also brought up the fact that suicide rates are higher among men than women. According to the B.C. coroner’s report from 2008 and 2009, males accounted for approximately 75 per cent of suicide deaths in B.C. The World Health Organization has stated that this gender disparity is observed nearly worldwide.

“Men’s health issues are a serious matter that hasn’t been taken very seriously until recently. The approach won’t necessarily be the same as those for women,” said Martin Mroz, SFU’s director of health and counselling services in an email to The Peak.

Maclean's article:

Quote:
Although the women’s centre’s coordinator declined to be interviewed, skepticism of the concept is evident in the centre’s FAQs. “Where is the men’s centre?” says a line atop that section of its website. “The simple answer is that the men’s centre is everywhere else,” it reads, before a paragraph that explains the justification for the women’s centre. Canadian society is “a man’s world,” female voices are oppressed in classes, and women feel threatened by drunken males at night, it reads. The website lists support for the idea of a “male allies project” that would “bring self-identified men together to talk about masculinity and its harmful effects.” Masculinity, it says, “denigrates women by making them into sexual objects, is homophobic, encourages violence, and discourages emotional expression.”...

Still, it isn’t just the women’s centre that questions the funding. Joel Warren, who represents labour studies students on a council that advises the overall student society, says students should have been consulted before the budget went to the subcommittee for approval. “It was created top-down by fiat,” he says. Syeda Nayab Bukhari, a doctoral student in GSWS and user of the women’s centre, agrees. “There needs to be a proper needs assessment,” she says, adding that she’s concerned about how the centre would “incorporate race, class and gender.”

Issues Pages: 
Regions: 
Unionist

Will there be a separate room for white heterosexual males? They may have issues that they don't feel comfortable sharing with just any old men.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I should hope so, Unionist.

One thing that is rather remarkable is that there has been no planning on what the centre will entail, and no request by the student body for such a space. Essentially, the caucus is giving $30K for a lark.

quizzical

i heard  'bout this 2 days ago. way to manipulate data.  the highest suicide rate in BC is men. First Nations men.

this mans centre at SFU is goin to help FN men?

if it's a lark it's an offensive 1.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Excellent point, quizzical. I thought the suicide line was a red-herring, but it's much more insidious than that. Well spotted.

quizzical

ya another insidious way to benefit those who don't need more benefits. the students at SFU are smarter than the gatekeepers who are pushing this waste.

Freedom 55

I don't think I'd say this is for people who "don't need" these services, or that it's necessarily a waste.

I agree that it's still a little unclear exactly how they intend to use this space. The lack of detail does leave open the question of whether this will just be a glorified frat house. And the funding for this start-up project does seem disproporionate to the funding that the existing women's centre receives.

But this doesn't have to be seen as a zero-sum situation. Counselling and appropriate support can be very hard to find - for anyone. Emotional and psychological well-being for all is a feminist issue.

quizzical

30,000 for a space to "bounce ideas off of each other'? 

Freedom 55

Hence:

Freedom 55 wrote:

I agree that it's still a little unclear exactly how they intend to use this space. The lack of detail does leave open the question of whether this will just be a glorified frat house.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I'm surprised that the student union doesn't have counselors available for students who need them. If the white boys are having trouble coping maybe they could just see a counselor. Imagine the horror of the formality of having to go a drop in clinic to get mental health care.

Women's centers were created to provide a SAFE space that was not male dominated. The frat boys on the Society executive are having a little giggle. One can only hope that they get shown the door at election time.

Freedom 55

kropotkin1951 wrote:

If the white boys are having trouble coping maybe they could just see a counselor.

This is only for white boys? I missed that part in Catchfire's links.

 

 

kropotkin1951 wrote:

The frat boys on the Society executive are having a little giggle. One can only hope that they get shown the door at election time.

If that's what this is about, then I agree with you.

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Freedom 55 wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

If the white boys are having trouble coping maybe they could just see a counselor.

This is only for white boys? I missed that part in Catchfire's links.

Here is link to the clubs on campus.  There is a club for pretty well everyone to get involved with based on their heritage except most white boys.  I just presumed that they must be the ones that needed a place to feel comfortable.  There are clubs for Germans and Italians, the execeptions that make it a rule.  I also added links to the web pages of the clubs that have them.

http://www.sfss.ca/clubs_unions.html

http://www.sfu.ca/achsa/

http://www.sfucsu.com/

http://www.sfuia.blogspot.com/

Freedom 55

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I just presumed

 

That's what I thought.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Freedom 55 wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I just presumed

 

That's what I thought.

Good to know you can engage in that activity. Have a nice day.

quizzical

i went to their website to dig around. the  treasurer in The Peak  quote isn't the treasurer they list on their website. keenan midgley isn't to be found on their goverance list at their website.

 

http://www.sfss.ca/governance.html

we know he's an accounting student and jock. he's also a part of the lowest difficulty setting. he said no one came to him looking for a men's centre. he alone decided SFU needed 1. not only did he decide they need 1 he alone decided they get equal funding.
then we've the maclean's article where SFU student Graham Templeton says no centres are needed at all 'cause women at SFU aren't marginalized. i think all us women needed to go live at SFU 'cause it is the only place in the world where we aren't.
there's something wrong going on at SFU and it ain't healthy for SFU women.

Freedom 55

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Good to know you can engage in that activity.

 

I have my moments. Laughing

Freedom 55

quizzical wrote:

the  treasurer in The Peak  quote isn't the treasurer they list on their website. keenan midgley isn't to be found on their goverance list at their website.

He's listed as the chairperson and treasurer for both the Financial and Administrative Services Committee, as well as the Accessibility Fund Advisory Committee.

http://www.sfss.ca/Committees.html

milo204

i think our natural reaction to the terms "men's space" is to think of the "manly men" etc getting together to talk shit about everyone else.  But that's not necessarily the case.  There are a lot of men who don't fit the mold, who don't agree with traditional masculinity and if there's a space for them to talk about whatever issues they're dealing with that can be a good thing.

i mean, the general reaction that "men" are one homogenous group seems to prove that.  What about sexuality issues, body image, power dynamics, physical violence, sexism, homophobia etc.  There's a lot of things men should be talking about with each other but aren't. 

 

Freedom 55

I agree, milo204.

This could be a really great thing for the students at SFU, or it could be awful. I'm not at SFU, nor do I live in the area, so I have no idea who these guys are. Based on some of the negative reactions, maybe there's some history with these guys that only those closer to the situation are aware of. I don't know. That's why I'm interested in finding out more about this before I jump to any conclusions about which students this centre will or won't serve, or whether or not this is really just a transparent, disingenous, backlashy parody of the women's centre.

kropotkin1951's comment about "having to go a drop in clinic to get mental health care" reminds me of the argument made by people who think that abstainence-based treatment programs should be sufficient for anyone dealing with addiction. That may work for lots of people, but it won't for everyone. Creating a variety of services with a variety of entry points makes it less likely that someone will slip through the cracks. Is it ultimately more important that everyone should try and make the most of whatever services are currently offered? Or is it more important that they get the help and support they need, period?

[cross-posted with 6079_Smith_W]

6079_Smith_W

@ milo204

Not just the manly men (though I expect they are more likely to be at the bar, watching the game). I think the spectre of right-wing, anti-feminist "men's rights" groups raises a lot more red flags.

Or worse.... Promise Keepers.

As for what is going on here, I haven't a clue. Sounds okay in theory, but my first question is whether there is actually a group and a need, or whether this was just something someone thought was a good idea. And I am assuming 30K includes room space, because it does seem like a bundle for a project that is clearly speculative.

And the article mentions that men are less likely to go and seek counselling; is there any reason to think that those who are so disinclined would be any more likely to go seek help at a men's centre?

 

6079_Smith_W

@ Freedom 55

Plus, while 30K is indeed a bundle of cash, it certainly isn't enough to hire a counsellor.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I appreciate the nuance you've introduced into this discussion, F55, and I agree that an initiative to fight stereotypical masculinity and the attendant problems and challenges could be a positive step--but I see no evidence of that happening here (and I confess my own prejudices when I say that the fact that it's an accounting student leading the charge gives me little hope). I would expect such an initiative to at least admit first and foremost that we live, in general, in a "safe space" for men--what we need is a "safe space" for challenging gender norms, which is emphatically different (as I know you know). I would also expect the petitioners for such a space to liason with the women's centre and make it clear that their project is in concert with theirs. Again, I see no evidence of this and it would be the first thing I expect.

Freedom 55

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Sounds okay in theory, but my first question is whether there is actually a group and a need, or whether this was just something someone thought was a good idea. And I am assuming 30K includes room space, because it does seem like a bundle for a project that is clearly speculative.

 

It does sound like a case of putting the cart before the horse. From what I've gathered, it sounds like it got approved on little more than someone thinking it would be a good idea, along with the fact that the students' union had a 200K budget surplus, and a lack of other proposals. According to Jeff McCann, they've been talking to the gender studies program and the existing counselling services on campus about how to make the centre serve the needs of the students, so that's encouraging. The 30K is conditional on them coming up with a concrete plan. Only $500 has been made available to them until they have a plan in place.

Freedom 55

Those are fair points, CF. I would agree that based on what I've read and heard so far, I can't say that I've heard them articulate a clear pro-feminist analysis, so I do think that skepticism is warranted. But I also recognize that people - especially people who have maybe only recently started to think about these issues - don't always know the best way to approach things, and are bound to make mistakes as they continue the process of figuring this shit out.

In his interview on The Current, McCann did specifically identify the women's centre as one of the stakeholders that they want to consult in order to help them develop their programming and space.

Maybe I'm being naïve in giving these guys the benefit of the doubt (for now), but they strike me as sincere, albeit somewhat clumsy in their efforts so far. 

I don't know how easy it is to find counselling services that are both appropriate and affordable in Greater Vancouver, but if it's anything like it is in Ottawa, then I'm predisposed to support efforts to increase their availability. That's why I want to be careful not to prematurely dismiss this as a project that benefits only men (or only white men), to the detriment of women.

re: Midgley being an accounting student... One of the main arguments being made against the centre (although not in this thread) is that it's not "fiscally responsible". Is everyone at SFU an accounting student?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Freedom 55 wrote:

kropotkin1951's comment about "having to go a drop in clinic to get mental health care" reminds me of the argument made by people who think that abstainence-based treatment programs should be sufficient for anyone dealing with addiction. That may work for lots of people, but it won't for everyone. Creating a variety of services with a variety of entry points makes it less likely that someone will slip through the cracks. Is it ultimately more important that everyone should try and make the most of whatever services are currently offered? Or is it more important that they get the help and support they need, period?

First of all SFU is just up the mountain from my home and I was familiar with the student politics but will admit I did not follow this years election.  I think that this highlights what kind of government you can get when only 11% of eligible voters bother to vote. This is the student union not the provincial government.  $30, 000 is the same funding as the women's centre. No I am not willing to give these guys the benefit of the doubt.  They were not the progressives running and I am not sure but I don't even think they ran on spending that kind of money on a men's drop in centre.  If they had maybe 20% of the students would have voted and they would not be playing their frat boy games with student resources.

I am not insensitive to student mental health issues I just happen to know that the services at SFU are way better for young men than anywhere else in our society.

Quote:

HCS professional psychologists and clinical counsellors offer many services to help you meet the challenges of achieving your academic and personal potential. Our preferred approach is group counselling as it allows students to work collaboratively to address shared personal concerns. Counselling groups offer a microcosm of the ‘real’ world.  A group can allow you to practice different ways of behaving in a safe environment. Like if you find it difficult to talk in work or social groups, then you are also likely to feel this in a counselling group. The difference is the group can offer encouragement and help in overcoming the difficulty you feel rather than simply repeating a ‘failure’. The same applies to many, many other issues and problems.

At HCS we offer students:

Contact us to make an appointment or drop-in to HCS in person. For your first appointment, you will be booked to see an intake counsellor for 30 minutes. The intake counsellor will work with you to decide the best plan for you which may include group counselling or individual counselling. These initial appointments are first come, first served; arrive or call early to request a time. While we try to offer same-day appointments, this may not always be possible. If your concerns are urgent, please notify reception when you call or arrive. Emergencies are seen on a same-day basis.

http://students.sfu.ca/health/counselling/services.html

kevinharding

Hi all - 

In context of the "benefit of the doubt" that we may or may not wish to give to the men on the SFSS board of directors who have voted to allocate up to $30k for mens' centre, I would like to draw your attention back to the rather brutal lockout of staff that many of the same executives engaged in last summer.

In the context of wanting to cut back on a budget that then apparently had no money, the Board of Directors, led by McCann (Midgley and others were members) locked out the staff of the student society, arguing that much of the work done was overpaid and was not good value for money.  Importantly, they locked out the women's centre, arguing that the work that the Centre staff did was of no real consequence - they and supporters argued that all the women's centre did was refer students to other service providers, and so on and so on.

Additionally, the Board of Directors pressured staff through attrition to eventually accept a collective agreement that would provide for up to 50% wage cuts for new employees.

Now, they suddenly have more than $30k to spend on a Men's Centre? Will it be just as inconsequential as the Women's Centre?

I have a long history with the organization in question, but I give no benefit of the doubt in this situation.

 

6079_Smith_W

That does provide a good bit of background. Thanks.

 

Freedom 55

kropotkin1951 wrote:

They were not the progressives running and I am not sure but I don't even think they ran on spending that kind of money on a men's drop in centre.  If they had maybe 20% of the students would have voted and they would not be playing their frat boy games with student resources.

 

It's still not clear to me that these are "frat boy games", but then, I'm sure you're more familiar with SFU student politics than I am. But you're right, it doesn't sound like they campaigned on the idea of opening a men's centre. As I said upthread, the proposal seems to only have come about as a result of a $200K budget surplus. Maybe there could have been better uses for that surplus, but it doesn't sound like there was much in the way of other proposals. Did the women's centre ask for more funding, and get turned down in favour of the men's centre? Nothing I've read or heard suggests that was the case.

 

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I am not insensitive to student mental health issues I just happen to know that the services at SFU are way better for young men than anywhere else in our society.

 

That's good to know. Too often those services are severely underresourced. Sounds like their plan for co-operation with HCS is a step in the right direction.

kevinharding

Freedom55: the Women's Centre budget was cut, as was their staff support allocation, in the previous budgeting round when the Board of Directors locked out the staff and forced them to accept an up-to 50% wage cut for new employees.  The lockout and budget cuts were justified in the context of "too little money."

Now they have money to throw about like this.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Thanks for this background, Kevin. Much appreciated.

Freedom 55

@kevinharding

 

Thanks for that reminder, and adding that for context. I created that thread last summer by posting your article. But not keeping up with SFU politics on a regular basis I didn't recognize that these were the same guys behind the lock-out. In light of that, yeah, it doesn't seem likely that anything good is going to come out of this men's centre.

That said, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with a space designed to provide services specifically for men. But it doesn't sound like this project's coming from the right place by the right people.

Freedom 55

kevinharding wrote:

Freedom55: the Women's Centre budget was cut, as was their staff support allocation, in the previous budgeting round when the Board of Directors locked out the staff and forced them to accept an up-to 50% wage cut for new employees.  The lockout and budget cuts were justified in the context of "too little money."

Now they have money to throw about like this.

 

Yeah, I was responding to that, but I write slowly.

kevinharding

Freedom 55 wrote:

Yeah, I was responding to that, but I write slowly.

Apologies for my overly fast typing : )

Freedom 55

kevinharding wrote:

Freedom 55 wrote:

Yeah, I was responding to that, but I write slowly.

Apologies for my overly fast typing : )

 

Haha, no worries.

quizzical

t'anks kevin. stand by what i wrote up thread. there's nothing good going on for the women at SFU. the lowest difficulty setting are up to their usual privileged BS.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

As clarification I use the term frat boy to describe a certain type of right wing asshole that inhabits student politics. They almost all either play on the lowest difficulty setting or they were born with major bonus points in wealth and family power.  These guys [there is a female version of these fungi] who become university educated go on to be in the face of anyone or anything the least bit progressive.  They make up the majority of the Conservative MP's. 

These guys are young fascists in training.  They are merely trying out the classic moves. The funding for women is not being cut this budget. But in the next budget if they don't have the money, well it is only fair and just that the two centers get reduced equally. 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

IMO Here is the King of frat boys.

 

quizzical

there's a thread about the "lowest difficulty setting"  in life being white hetrosexual men.  when their  out control egos are checked then them women's is out to get 'em.  Absolute power has corrupted 'em absolutely.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Indeed quizzical.  I keep forgetting that not everyone has read past threads. Here is a link to the discussion.

http://rabble.ca/babble/anti-racism-news-and-initiatives/straight-white-...

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

I am late to this (thanks for the tip Catchfire) but the Charlatan, Carleton University's newspaper, just put out an article and the first couple of sentences talk about how men feel uncomfortable talking about certain things like alcoholism, drug addictive and abusive relationships, and then I felt really bad about myself for scoffing at the title.

Agree with quizzical (way back there) that how is this not manipulating the data and how is this centre going to actually provide anything hlepful besides the men v women debate that is happening right now.

I am all for anyone receiving the help they need, but I guess I don't understand why there needs to be a safe space for all men to talk about these issues? Safe space from what? Maybe they should create a centre for FN men as they are disproportionally affected by violence, drug addiction and alocholism or a queer centre for gay/trans men who are affected by violence disproportionally (re:hate crimes) -- but most universities have those, so what is the point of this centre again? Please tell me.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

In my discussion with Kaitlin, rabble.ca's new books & blogging intern Theresa tipped us off to the "Boys Club" in University of King's College, Halifax:

No Girls Allowed

Quote:
The Boys Club, a discussion group for male-identified people which began at King’s, wants guys to consider gender equality a men’s issue.

The club recently joined a protest against a Q104 radio contest they deemed sexist. The campaign was called “The Male is in the Czech,” and gave men the chance to win a trip to Prague, where the winner would meet a group of “Czech beauties” through a dating service.

The contest ended on International Women’s Day (March 8), which Boys Club founder Omri Haiven called “ignorant”. “I don’t even think they thought about the significance of that day,” he said.

NSCAD student Derrick Dixon was the first to speak out against the ad. Boys Club member John Wasteneys took up the cause and created a Facebook group to share his indignation. The contest was brought up at several Boys Club meetings, said member Sam Krawec in an email. “The Q104 contest emerged as a clear example of gender-based oppression, and a number of us felt compelled to respond,” said Krawec. “Sexist and hyper-sexualized depictions of women, the use of women as prizes, and the promotion of a wild male sex drive are (all) aspects of a rape culture that the Boys Club is committed to ending.”

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

Men need a space where they feel free to belch, fart, and scratch themselves without fear of spilling beer or leaving crumbs and snack wrappers on the couch-- especially if they can't afford both beer and the sports channel.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Hi autoworker. Please note that you are in the feminism forum. As for your comment, as a man, I don't think men "need" such a space any more than women need it. I also don't think it that such a space needs to be gendered. Lastly, such a space exists in many places. It's called a "bar."

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

I don't think autoworker was being serious with that.  Still, thanks for the reminder.

Sean in Ottawa

This proposal is so goofy that I had to look to see if it was made on April first. It wasn't.

Seems some men want to diminish women's gains by wasting resources to make a parody of them.

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

My fear is that it is a little longer term than that.  it is the equality of cuts that they are looking for.  When they attacked the Women's Center in the past there was an outcry.  Next time it will be equal opportunity pain.  Cuts to a frivolous men's centre being equated to cuts to the Women's Center that actually provides a needed service.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

That is a scary but forceful point, kropotkin. If I was a volunteer at the women's centre, I'd be sick right now.

Telmea Story Telmea Story's picture

Maybe it is an indication of the success of programs intended to promote equality and sensitivity to social and cultural issues but it is getting to be pretty clear that white males are not really welcome anywhere. Was that the intended effect of all the social action? Is that what "inclusion" means?

6079_Smith_W

Telmea Story wrote:

Maybe it is an indication of the success of programs intended to promote equality and sensitivity to social and cultural issues but it is getting to be pretty clear that white males are not really welcome anywhere.

??

 

6079_Smith_W

dp

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Here, Mr. Story. I fixed it for you:

Telmea Story wrote:
but it is getting to be pretty clear that white males are not really pretty much welcome anyeverywhere.

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