Sometimes just when you think there’s no hope for progress, something unexpected turns up. A group at Brandon University in Manitoba is fighting to have a Men’s Collective organization established and create for their constituency a seat on the Brandon University Student Union council. Men make up 30% of the student population at Brandon. Issues effecting university aged men are matters of life and death, like testicular cancer which greatly effects young men, bullying on campus and the fact that young men are vastly more likely then young women to take dangerous jobs. An organization to represent a minority group with crucial issues to tackle makes sense, doesn’t it? Not quite, according to an article in the Winnipeg Free Press
Breen made his motion at the Brandon University Students’ Union (BUSU) annual meeting last month. One elected council member set the tone of debate, scoffing that Breen’s group would be nothing but a “pornography and cigar club.” As a man, he huffed, he didn’t require representation. Other speakers were miffed and simply couldn’t see the need. The motion was defeated.
At another forum, a female professor could barely tolerate hearing Breen’s reasons for starting a Men’s Collective. “She was saying that men do not have need of representation, that we have historically been the oppressors, that we have no position of disadvantage,” the fourth-year geology student recalled.
While the position on council still hasn’t happened, the group has been allowed to exist, grudgingly, being given $400, less then 10% that awareded to the Women’s Collective.
The Winnipeg Free Press article – breaking from the general journalist’s predilection to mock anything remotely touching men’s issues, strongly supports the need for a well funded Men’s Collective
“If one were to look downward to the bottom of society instead, one finds mostly men there, too,” Baumeister said in a 2007 address to the American Psychological Association.
Men make up the majority of the homeless and imprisoned. They fill riskier jobs. In the U.S., 93 per cent of people killed on the job are men.
It’s higher in the military. Of 108 Canadian soldiers killed in the Afghanistan war, 107 were men. Men also die earlier, and are nearly 10 times more likely than women to commit suicide.
But the news from Brandon University is mostly positive. The incident – which was featured on CBC radio – has sparked considerable debate, with mostly supportive commentators, saying things on their university forum which are music to my ears:
The collective was not started as a “1/2 joke”, in any way shape or form. There are issues which affect men, both medical, social and psychological, which we feel are under-represented as a whole at the University. The BUSU AGM was an effort to gain us a Commissioner position, similar to the Women’s Commissioner. For right or wrong, this motion was defeated. We are hoping to become a driving force for equality and fairness, and would hope that we have the support of the community in this endeavor.
it was pointed out that some people on BUSU thought it would be a “boy’s club” that was against women. I find it disconcerting that men “must” automatically be sexist boors when they get together. Sounds like a sexist attitude to me.
As for the decision to deny the men’s collective representation, BUSU has shown itself to be gender biased. I’m sure in short order they will change their mind once they realize they have opened themselves up to a challenge at the Human Rights Commission. There is a Women’s collective which has representation, and the men are not allowed. When it comes down to it, the only reason they are being denied is based on their gender.
That is illegal and unconstitutional.
as well as
The gender of those on BUSU Council makes no difference. It’s not the President’s job to represent male students there. It’s not the Arts Commissioner’s job to represent male students there. However, it IS the job of the Women’s Commissioner to represent female students there. And judging by the conduct of some BUSU Council members, I would say that men are underrepresented on Council.
Finally, we’re not creating the Men’s Collective for ourselves, and we’re not pushing for the Commissioner because we need it. Guess what. I don’t feel discriminated against, either (or at least I didn’t before the AGM vote). We’re doing this for the faceless, nameless kid somewhere in Darrach or McMaster who gets beaten by his father and doesn’t know who to turn to. You and I might not have problems that require a Men’s Commissioner, but somebody out there does.
Good work Brandon University Men’s Collective! Should you happen to stumble on my modest blog, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think we have a lot to talk about