Minnesota State University, Mankato welcomed the new group Men Standing Up Against Violence to their list of Recognized Student Organizations this past week.
The group, previously called Men Against Violence, has rebranded in hopes of creating a solid foundation that doesn’t reach the fate of the former group in disbanding.
Jonathon Arndt, a junior in Secondary Education with a focus on English and member of the Peer Educators Acting for Change and Equality (PEACE) stated, “We just wanted to rebrand it a little bit just because the MAVs that were on campus, they would be here for a couple of years and then disband just because a lot of their members would graduate. That’s something we’ve talked about a couple of months ago, how we actually want to get underclassmen involved in this so when we leave MNSU it’s still continuing on, that it doesn’t disintegrate.”
The group’s goals range from having discussions on controversial topics to engaging in community activities while providing a space for men to learn and grow.
Hunter Beckstrom, a graduate assistant in the Women’s Center and Gender and Women’s Studies program said, “We hope that once we have more members and we’re more established as a group, that people might see us as potential leaders on campus and that when we get collaborative and connect with other groups, people are going to see that pro-feminist males who go against toxic masculinity can be influential and can be looked up to as leaders on campus.”
He continued, “I hope that we’re able to transform what it means to be a man on campus and enforce standing up against what you see as violence against other individuals.”
Another goal of the group is to create an open and comfortable space for men to share their perspectives.
Beckstrom said, “We want to have a diverse and inclusive group as we possibly can, because everyone comes from a different perspective, so we want to have men of color, LGBTQ men, international male students, everything like that. My own perspective is going to be completely different than another man, so obviously toxic masculinity shows up different depending on how you identify and what culture you are from, and so we want to make sure we’re hearing from a lot of different men’s voices and perspectives to be able to help bring change.”
The group fears the stigma with men being pro-feminist and the stereotype that men in these groups are over-effeminate, gay, or un-manly can scare potential members.
Arndt expressed, “When I was beginning my journey in this, when the PEACE group came into my classroom, I was really engaged and I thought to myself ‘I really want to join this group’ and I started thinking what are other men going to think of me, and more importantly what am I going to think about myself? Am I going to be labeled as gay, am I going to be seen as less manly than I like to be viewed? But I mean, you just got to take that step and then once you take that step you realize you embrace a lot of beauty.”
At the moment both Beckstrom and Arndt are working with other members in recruiting more men on campus in joining Men Standing Up Against Violence.
Times and dates for meetings are still being decided and more information can be found through Arndt and Beckstrom, the Women’s Center, and advertisement.
Arndt wants students interested to not be afraid, saying, “Take the chance, get over the stereotype and stigma. You don’t even have to join the group, you can just sit down and talk to Hunter or myself and other members, it doesn’t mean you have to be committed to anything, you can just sit and have a simple discussion, we’re happy to do that with people as well. Come in with an open mind.”