Last Wednesday, the financial and administrative services committee for the Simon Fraser Student Society unanimously passed a recommendation that approximately $30,000 be put aside for the creation of a men’s centre. Treasurer Keenan Midgley initiated the project. He told The Peak that the proposed center is meant to be a space where men can discuss issues that might arise in their undergraduate careers at SFU.
“There are a number of issues that men face that they don’t really feel comfortable talking about in a formal setting. Whether it’s dealing with alcoholism, drugs, or an abusive relationship. Whether it’s themselves who are in it or emotionally not being able to cope with things,” said Midgley. Instead of a formal venue, such as the walk-in clinic in the Maggie Benson Centre, Midgley thought that a place where men can “bounce ideas off each other” would be more beneficial.
Midgley also brought up the fact that suicide rates are higher among men than women. According to the B.C. coroner’s report from 2008 and 2009, males accounted for approximately 75 per cent of suicide deaths in B.C. The World Health Organization has stated that this gender disparity is observed nearly worldwide.
“Men’s health issues are a serious matter that hasn’t been taken very seriously until recently. The approach won’t necessarily be the same as those for women,” said Martin Mroz, SFU’s director of health and counselling services in an email to The Peak.
Although the women’s centre’s coordinator declined to be interviewed, skepticism of the concept is evident in the centre’s FAQs. “Where is the men’s centre?” says a line atop that section of its website. “The simple answer is that the men’s centre is everywhere else,” it reads, before a paragraph that explains the justification for the women’s centre. Canadian society is “a man’s world,” female voices are oppressed in classes, and women feel threatened by drunken males at night, it reads. The website lists support for the idea of a “male allies project” that would “bring self-identified men together to talk about masculinity and its harmful effects.” Masculinity, it says, “denigrates women by making them into sexual objects, is homophobic, encourages violence, and discourages emotional expression.”...
Still, it isn’t just the women’s centre that questions the funding. Joel Warren, who represents labour studies students on a council that advises the overall student society, says students should have been consulted before the budget went to the subcommittee for approval. “It was created top-down by fiat,” he says. Syeda Nayab Bukhari, a doctoral student in GSWS and user of the women’s centre, agrees. “There needs to be a proper needs assessment,” she says, adding that she’s concerned about how the centre would “incorporate race, class and gender.”