KRISTINA JAMES — Special to Southern News
One group at Southern is challenging male students to join in the fight against sexual assault and violence against women and men, on and off campus.
The Men’s Initiative at SCSU is an organization that believes in the immense power men have in reducing the number of gender violation cases that are of a violent nature, on campus and in their communities, according to Jim Hoffecker.
“The Men’s Initiative is a group on campus for men to address gender violence. You know, sexual assault, domestic violence and even gender stereotypes,” said Hoffecker, graduate intern for the Men’s Initiative.
Knowing someone who was a victim of gender violence, Hoffecker said it helped push him into getting involved with the organization. The Men’s Initiative’s goal is to have everyone understand that gender violence is not just an issue for women.
According to the Mentors in Violence Prevention’s “10 Things Men Can Do to Prevent Gender Violence” list, people should “approach gender violence as a men’s issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds.”
According to the MVP website, which is a gender violence prevention, education and training organization, men need to first look at themselves when addressing the issue of gender violence.
“[The] Men’s Initiative is relevant because in a way, we set the means of standard,” said Hal Hanson, a senior at SCSU, who said he believes in the Men’s Initiatives efforts and views.
While it is important that adult men get this information, some think the lessons and steps the Men’s Initiative is providing for the students at SCSU are needed in classrooms at local elementary and middle schools.
“As a mother of a 10-year-old boy, I agree it’s a beneficial program for the college and the community surrounded by the college will benefit,” said Kadesha Burgan-Jackson, a student at SCSU and mother of two. “I just wish that maybe they would come up with a program for younger boys because that’s when it all starts—when they’re younger.”
According to Burgan-Jackson, men need to be taught young how to control and manage their anger, respect and protect the women around them, get in touch with and protect their.
While it is true SCSU’s Men’s Initiative does not have its own program for the youth, they do work closely with the Women’s and Families Centers located in New Haven, Meriden and Middletown. The center does have programs that visit schools in the surrounding areas.
Coming in the next few months, the Men’s Initiative will be holding events to inform and educate men on their role in stopping gender violence here at SCSU.
One of the Men’s Initiatives events is White Ribbon Day. It is an internationally recognized campaign where men wear white ribbons to signify their commitment to stand against gender violence.
“Men take a pledge to commit to never condone violence against women,” said Hoffecker.
Hoffecker said the Men’s Initiative stands firm in its pursuit to help end gender violence and bring awareness to this growing issue. The time is now for men to stand up and accept that they have an obligation.