University of Oregon Men’s Center, the 14-year-old student organization, strives to help male students live a healthy life and celebrate healthy masculinity on campus. It is also the student group that received the largest increase, a 249 percent bump in its budget, among all 170 ASUO-recognized student groups.
The $65,000 bump in its budget will allow the student group to hire a professional director, current GTF director Aaron Porter said.
Porter, a graduate student majoring in couples and family therapy, joined UO Men’s Center in 2012. He has held the GTF director position of the student group for two years.
Earlier this term, UO Men’s Center kicked off a new program called the Men of Strength Team, or MOST, as an effort to prevent sexual assault on campus with a variety of topics relating to reconstructing masculinity, sexual violence and intersectionality, Porter said. UO Men’s Center, Phi Gamma Delta and UO Organization Against Sexual Assault are all co-sponsoring the 10-week program.
“It’s all about strengthening healthy masculinity and engaging men in a critical conversation about deconstructing a culture that promotes sexual violence,” Porter said.
The group has worked closely with Kyle Holmberg, a fraternity member of FIJI, to get Fraternity and Sorority Life more involved with the program, Assistant Director A.J. Fierro-Stephens said.
UO Men’s Center will start up its week-long Masculinity Speaker Series event in May.
UO Men’s Center also hosts weekly meetings with around seven to 10 attendees that come and share their experiences, Fierro-Stephens said.
But to keep the group running smoothly, Porter has taken on more hours than a student should.
“I’m supposed to work 20 hours [a week], but sometimes I would work up to 30 hours,” Porter said. “I have to balance that between being a busy grad student and running these big projects, which require a lot of time and energy, but we only have limited time in our schedule. It’s very difficult.”
Out of the $65,000 increase, the Men’s Center will use almost $50,000 to find an adequate and qualified candidate as the new director.
“It takes someone very intentional and mindful to run these events,” Porter said. “There’s a lot of wrong ways to do men’s work.”
Porter said the high wage is essential to attract suitable candidates, because there are not many Men’s Center directors out there. Programs Finance Committee members agreed.
PFC member and ASUO Senate President Kevin Dobyns was in full support of the new director position.
“It’s definitely something that is needed and long overdue,” Dobyns said. “I was surprised that the Men’s Center hasn’t had a full time director.”
ASUO Finance Director Shawn Stevenson reminded PFC members at the meeting that the proposed $65,000 increase for the Men’s Center alone would nearly match last year’s $82,000 total for amount of increases given to all student groups combined. But Stevenson said he supports Men’s Center, saying it is a well-rounded club that has a big impact on campus.
The rest of the increased budget is going to fund MOST and an additional stipend position. MOST hosts its weekly meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the Men’s Center, which is located in McArthur Court.