Student wants to start Men's Centre

March 12, 1999

by Sheri Block
the Carillon

A proposed Menıs Centre is looking for support on campus.

³Iım just in the beginning stages of getting support for a centre,² said Karry Schmidt, coordinator of the project. ³I would prefer a menıs centre but I also would be happy with a university centre that would apply to both men and women equally.²

Schmidtıs interest in the project began when he was writing an essay about the necessity of a womenıs centre. He questioned why there is currently not a menıs centre and was upset by the response he received.

³The director of the womenıs centre was telling me about the services they offer, and apparently they do a lot of good for the women in the university. I asked her why there isnıt a menıs centre, . . . . she said Œthere would never be a menıs centre because the Owl is a menıs centre, every bar is a menıs centre, that kind of made me upset. In fact, places like that arenıt really a menıs centre and that sort of stereotypes every male of going to the bar and acting like an idiot.²

³That upset me,² continued Schmidt. ³After I wrote the essay it made me think about trying to set up such a centre. It only made sense.²

Tammy Wagner has been the coordinator of the Womenıs Centre since 1996.

³If they feel thereıs a need for it and they can find support, if itıs not just a backlash against the womenıs centre, Iım all in support of it and I think everyone else is too,² she said.

Schmidt says the proposed menıs centre would offer the same sort of services as the Womenıs Centre and that men do need a place where they can talk.

³You never know what [men] would actually talk about if circumstances were there for them to actually sit down and talk about it. Men do have issues as well, itıs just that theyıd be different than womenıs issues.²

³Thereıs a big stereotype that men are seen to be feminine if they talk about their problems [but] it actually strengthens their masculinity to realize that they do have problems,² said Schmidt. ³Men may feel more comfortable in telling another man their problems,² said Schmidt.

Wagner agrees men should have the same support network, but believes their needs can be met at the current Womenıs Centre, which has been in existence since 1968.

³Iım in favour of men having support services but I think this support can be met at the Womenıs Centre,² said Wagner. ³I think thereıs still a need for a safe place for women to go.² Student reaction to the proposal is mixed.

³I donıt know what a menıs centre would be good for,² said Corey Gebhardt, a 3rd year PAS student. ³I donıt think anybody would go, thatıs what the Kidıs Help Phone is for.²

All would be welcome at the menıs centre, including women.

³One of the big things weıd support is men and women actively working to achieve equality,² said Schmidt. ³The real vision that we have is to convert the Womenıs Centre into a university centre.²

Schmidt says he has received almost equal support from both men and women because ³[some] women see the Womenıs Centre as being sexist towards men.²

Schmidt believes men are losing their rights.

³The feminists of this age,² said Schmidt, ³have gotten pretty much all that theyıve asked for politically, now when they fight for things all they are [doing] is taking away more rights from men.²

But Jaime Reban, Education Issues Coordinator, thinks there is no need for a menıs centre on campus.

³It kind of degrades the many reasons why we need a womenıs centre. It diminishes the problem, the specific issues that women have to deal with as women,² said Reban. ³Men arenıt fighting for things like pay equity and men on the whole donıt have to deal with being victims of domestic violence or issues like body image.²

Reban says that men still hold the power.

³It is the white males who have all the power, like in the corporations, They still earn the most money, itıs women who are in poverty, itıs women who have to suffer all the different kinds of violence against them. A menıs centre kind of spits in the face of all those issues and demeans them.²

Schmidt says this is not his intent.

³Iım not woman-bashing in any way,² said Schmidt. ³The last thing I want to do is hurt womenıs rights, I just want it to be equal.

³Iım not trying to start up some radical group, I want them to realize that. The centre would not be a place for men to go and bash women.²