Men have right to safe space

The allocation of $30,000 of student funding to the creation of a men’s centre at Simon Fraser University has been finalized after the University’s Student Society Treasurer proposed the initiative.

Controversy has surrounded the opening of the centre, with doubts raised about the intentions behind its creation and what purpose it may serve.

All in all, the idea of a men’s centre isn’t negative, so long as it’s implemented in a careful, well-thought out and sensitive fashion. Specifically, much concern has been raised about the potential that a men’s centre could simply turn into a frat house — a place for men to make misogynistic jokes, play video games and watch sports.

It’s ultimately unfair to assume that this will happen — it creates negative stereotypes that deny the use a men’s centre could have on a university campus.

Men, just as women, face countless gendered societal pressures. Much of machismo culture denies men the safe space to discuss their vulnerabilities and personal issues with one another. This has led to much higher suicide and alcoholism rates among men compared to women. Homosexual or transsexual men face societal stigmas on top of this.

A men’s centre can be used to create a safe space for men to discuss their problems, helping to fight the stigmas that they encounter on a day-to-day basis.

But, in order for such an environment to be created, a significant amount of oversight must be implemented by the students and university members involved in the centre’s creation.

A clear mandate must be outlined for the centre, with an appropriate level of funding allocated – $30,000, which is the amount currently recommended, seems excessive for the proposed purposes of the centre.

Furthermore, students and administrators must hold the centre to account, ensuring that it’s used as a safe space to discuss issues that men face. Otherwise it risks morphing into a boys’ club that only furthers patriarchal values and negative stereotypes.

The creation of a men’s centre shouldn’t stifle the prevalence or importance of women’s issues, or issues facing other marginalized groups on campus. A dialogue about gender issues facilitated through the men’s centre would add a positive element to its creation.

For equality’s sake, men, just as women, should have a safe space allocated to them to discuss and cope with the societal stigmas that they may face.

If the men’s centre at Simon Fraser University can establish an environment that fits the above criteria, its creation and funding will be justifiable.

— Journal Editorial Board

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