Healthy Masculinity Initiative Coming to SMCM

St. Mary’s College of Maryland has been making many broad changes in the way the college community talks about gender, identity and sexual health. From the redesign to the peer support network now called S.M.A.R.T, to annual events like Take Back the Night in the spring, students are finding ways to discuss politics in safe, constructive ways. There is now discussion in Residence Life of creating an initiative to support healthy masculinity on campus. Area Coordinator Daniel Schell and Assistant Director of Residence Life Matthew Jordan confirmed efforts to implement new preventionary programming aimed at bringing male students into the conversation anout rape, sexual assault and gender awareness. ‘Last year, Derek Young, Kelvin Clark, Matt [Jordan] and I began discussing issues that affect our male students in particular.
Healthy masculinity programming is meant to counter the harmful mentality that men must be behave a certain way or treat women in particular ways to reaffirm their identity as men. The organization ‘Men Can Stop Rape’, in their information about their own healthy masculinity action project, describe the project as such as ‘a national grassroots movement to eradicate the harmful expectations and stereotypes our society teaches boys about what it means to be a man.’
With the discussion of ending sexual assault more pervasive than ever, Schell and Jordan say that while no specific incident has prompted the development of this initiative, the time certainly seems right. ‘There’s a lot of discussion right now about sexual misconduct,’ says Jordan. ‘of course we have our new policy, there’s a lot of talk about Title IX, and a lot of the programs we have right now are very reactionary, very focused on women. But research tells us that the vast majority of perpetrators in these situations are men, and we don’t really have a lot of proactive programming, not just here but across the country. Just talking to men, first of all about what sexual misconduct is, and about what rape is, making sure that there’s a full understanding of what consent entails, and prompting male students to start looking at this issue as well.’
Students and staff may sometimes perceive problems with the way in which masculinity is presented culturally to us, both on campus and in society at-large. Junior Orion Hartmann pointed specifically to gendered insults and compliments as an example of a problem he perceives in the way we societally view masculinity, ‘such as “that shirt is too gay / don’t scream like a girl” and “they’ve got massive balls”,’ says Hartmann. ‘…people can recognize that they enforce hurtful stereotypes that judge women as inferior. Being a girl shouldn’t be an insult nor should homosexuality, and people don’t need balls to have guts and show courage. No one needs to grow balls.’
Schell and Jordan hopes that programming that focuses on male students help make them feel like a part of the solution. ‘It’s not pointing fingers at men and saying they’re the problem.’ says Schell. It’s more a way of looking at men and saying “You have an opportunity here to intervene and to help reduce these issues on campus.”’
A healthy masculinity initiative at St. Mary’s would also focus on encouraging male bystander intervention amongst men, ‘Looking out for men, looking out for women, and making sure folks aren’t getting into those kinds of situations.’
Schell and Jordan also wish to counter harmful ideas of what being a man is about.
‘Some of the contemporary research about masculinity talks about masculinity in terms of a mask..something put on so that other folks see them as a man.’ says Jordan. ‘Or some research talks talks about it in terms of a box that men put themselves in, based on common stereotypes of masculinity. Things that men learn at a very young age, that they feel they need to exhibit in order to be seen as a man.’
‘A lot of what we are thinking about,’ Jordan continues, ‘are ways to talk about those stereotypes. Men not being able to explore emotion, other than anger, abusing drugs and alcohol, not only to try and look more manly but to deal with some of those emotions they’re not confronting.’
It’s understandable that men also harming themselves by trying to live up to stereotypes of masculinity would be a concern. Schill and Jordan say that based on statistics given to them by Kelly Smolinsky representing conduct violations last and over the past three years. male students accounted for over 70% of all infractions, despite making up only 41% of the student body. ‘Things are not horrible here on campus.’ says Jordan, but we can make the whole climate better.’
Schill and Jordan already have a pretty good idea of what might be in store for the future in terms of the initiative. ‘I’ve developed sort of a training program.’ says Schill. ‘We’ve already implmented it with our RAs. I think from here we’re looking to expand into other student programs. Groups like the Peer Health Educators, S.M.A.R.T., I imagine the OLs when they get here next summer. Then we’re hopefully going to do a “St. Mary’s Speaks”, though it hasn’t been confirmed yet, to have sort of an open discussion about these issues.’
‘We’re still formulating want these discussions to look like.’ continues Jordan. ‘Likely it’s going to be a group of male students working with different staff members…I think what we’re hoping for is something less formal where there’s subject matter from something within the vast realm of masculinity.’
Schill and Jordan are both confident that male students will be both responsive and interested in the opportunity to participate.’I think the way we want to approach it is to have students from every part of campus involved, from athletics to residence life to OLs to students who are just looking to get more involved.’ says Schill. ‘That’s our hope for this.’
Students interested in learning more or getting involved with healthy masculinity programming can contact Daniel Schill (djschell@smcm.edu) or Matthew Jordan (mljordan@smcm.edu) in Res Life (240.895.4207).

 

 

 

The Di-Vino Comedy: Humor Column (The Uncensored Version)

I wake up and open my eyes as I lay on my side in bed in the morning. My knees are crunched up against my chest, I’m afraid to put them down because the night before my intestines felt taut as a wire in my stomach, and I’m certain if I stretch out they’re just going to snap like a guitar string. The trashcan of my bedroom had been lined with paper towels, next to it is an untouched glass of water. When I finally unwind I feel fine. I actually feel just fine and dandy, maybe even better than I normally would for a Saturday morning. I can’t think of any reason I have not to get up and face the day.

So why am I so mortified I can’t even leave my bed?

All one of you long-time readers (Hi Dad), might know that plenty of my humor columns start off like this. I write facetious and irreverent articles that are basically heightened versions of the things I see and do at St. Mary’s. This article however, is the exception. Everything I’m going to tell you actually happened, and the only thing that has been changed are the names, to protect the guilty. This is the story of the night I entered a competitive drinking competition and won. And everything that happened afterwards.

THE DARK WOOD

On Wednesday, my friend asked me if I would like to participate in an event that will hereafter be referred to as the Four de Tranzia. Now, I’m aware that my thinly veiled attempt to protect the name of the actual event makes it sound more like a drag 4k than a semi-hazardous booze bash, but believe me, it’s not your grandmother’s wine challenge. The Four de Tranzia has many variations. The one I’m competing in dictates that three teammates finish an entire box of wine as fast as they can; no leaving, no vomit, no holds barred. The team that finishes their box first gets a trophy and the honor of first dibs going out the lawn to puke and die. Just to be extremely, explicitly clear, a wine box, traditionally designed for consumption by parties and non-idiots-with-death-wish, is roughly 42 glasses of wine. That means every person is expected to finish roughly 14 cups of grade-D vino, if you’re pulling your weight. Objectively, I know that sounds like a lot. Believe me, even before I started I knew logically that it was a monumental undertaking. But something in you, whether its just youthful hubris or just the mechanical monkey playing cymbals that is your brain function just quitting altogether, doesn’t know just how much that really is. Not until you get there. I can’t really say why specifically I wanted to take part in this all or nothing leap from zero to wino, but I can say certainly that although lucid, although of sound body and mind, I had almost no idea what I was doing.

My first hint that I may have something to fear from the Four de Tranzia should have come from the fact that the person who invited me, who I will here call Annie, had absolutely no intention of participating, and in fact was only coming because she’d been invited to watch the events unfold. At some point in your life, maybe in the dentist’s chair, watching a teacher grade a teacher, at the OBGYN, perhaps you’ve had someone look at you or your work and go ‘Oh my God, Ted, you’ve got to see this or you’re not gonna believe it’. You know that when something like that happens, it never means its good. This in mind, I needed two partners willing to embark on a voyage of the damned. Where to find two such jokers? Joker number one was Annie’s housemate, a fellow that I will call Jo. Jo and I agree on many things, including food, movies and murdering ourselves for empty glory, apparently. It seems extremely fitting with the pervasively dark humor that we share that Jo and I would knowingly do this to ourselves. Joker two was a guy who I will call Jan, with apologies to the real Jan for this name choice. Jan and I had begun going steady, as the kids say, shortly before, and we were in the phase could still manipulate him into doing dumb stuff for me. He didn’t need a great deal of convincing, because he is a jovial dude with the stomach of a lumberjack. Thus we had our team.

Now does our story really begins. Friday, the night of the challenge. We roll up to the host house, which I will not identify under any kind of duress, lest you’ve got Bradley Cooper and a ball pit full of Lindor truffles stored away somewhere. By this time I’m nervous. This had a great deal to do in part with my beloved friends and housemates repeated reminders that this is a terrible idea. I know it, and the more they say it the more it’s congealing within me. The only thing that really keeps me going through with it is the knowledge that the only person who is going to make me do anything is me, so I’m pretty certain I’m going to be okay. The other part of it is that I am me. Here are the facts: I am a 21 year old girl, about 5”4 and 125 120 115 pounds. I drink like a leaky faucet; short, strong spurts. Both my comrades are average-sized men in the prime of their lives, and even they’re concerned about how they’re going to fare tonight. How the hell am I going to pull my weight with my lil ol’ stomach? How can I even worry how I’m going to pull my weight when the real danger is that they’re going to have to haul my ass to the county hospital and pump my lil ol’ stomach? I calm myself, and decide I’m going to go through with this based only on the self-assurance that I can and will stop anytime I want to. Nothing’s going to make me take thing this seriously.

Oh, hindsight.

We are asked to select a country for our team to represent. Choosing to seize upon a country that would probably be well equipped for this kind of task, we naturally pick Ireland. We also have to pick our wine box, a choice of major strategic importance, as you’re not allowed to leave until you finish your box. What you get is what you drink. It’s also worth saying that the choice is important because whichever one you choose, it will be ruined for you forever after. You will not be able to catch a fume of it without running for the bathroom. This in mind, we choose the Tranzia known as Sunset Blush. I haven’t changed the name of this stuff, because it is of the fucking devil to me. It’s a white zinfandel with a stomach curdling strawberry flavor. It is so grotesquely saccharine that it would make the producers of children’s cereals cry. Just us against this wine for what we’ve been led to believe may be the whole night. We place our box on the table and finesse out the spout. The countdown starts. It’s just a game. No pressure.

And we’re off.

HEAVEN

I look down at my cup, and I guess I’m possessed with the strategy that Jan and Jo and I have agreed upon; just finish as fast as you can. That one thought rattling in my brain, I unhinge my jaw like a snake and pour my cup down throat like…I don’t even know what like. There’s really nothing comparable to the ridiculous feat I’ve just performed. Nothing that is, until I do it again. And again. As I finish my third, I can already feel the flush in my cheeks and that horrible nauseous swelling feeling in my stomach and throat. I also feel eyes on me. Jan and Jo are looking with expressions of guh. Suddenly my nausea gives way to acute, giddy, boozy delight. I’ve found my usefulness to this team. I’ve helped us to an early lead.

Those first three drinks I speed-demoned represented my shining moment, and naturally after that I go downhill pretty quickly. As I slump into a chair I’m pretty sure I’m out of the game from here on in. Then Jan picks up the box. ‘Holy shit’ I think he says, handing the box to Jo who then hands it to me. Compared to when we got it, the thing is light as my head is in that moment. I squeal, and then prance off to the bathroom because already I have to pee like a racehorse. Sitting on the potty for what felt like an eternity in my swimming head, my restraint suddenly comes apart at the seams. We absolutely, positively have to win. I dance out of the bathroom with a second wind, and the bag is lighter than ever.

Better though I feel, there’s no way I can pretend the rest of the evening didn’t belong to Jan and Jo. As it becomes more and more certain we have this, their cups get fuller and fuller, and the task becomes harder and harder. Jan is an anchor if I’ve ever seen one, and gulps down giant portions just to get us close to the finish line. I have one or two more glasses and then I’m out of commission. Jan and Jo start supplementing their drinking with bread rolls from my purse. People start to notice how close we are, and suddenly all eyes are on the boys. Jan finishes his drink with incredible force of will, and designates his remaining strength to keeping himself from throwing up. I’ve never gotten drunk so fast, but suddenly I’m so sauced I’m almost manic. Jo is sitting there nursing his last cup, the very last cup we need for the challenge to be complete, trying to muster the grit to make that last push. Suddenly the chant starts coming in; ‘fin-ish, fin-ish, fin-ish.’ It’s getting louder, and Jo’s looking so pained; “FIN-ISH! FIN-ISH! FIN-ISH!” He tosses it back. We wait for the longest most, excruciating second of our entire lives to hear it made official. It’s decided; we are the winners of Four de Tranzia.

We are out the door before the speech is even finished.

Jan dives behind the house. Jo and I sprawl on the lawn, prostrate, and start torrential vomiting. It feels like every smoker on campus has decided to have a cigarette out back at this very moment, and every one of them is watching us doing our impersonation of the Trevi Fountain. But when I roll onto my back reeking of vomit, my senses in shambles, it feels like the most glorious moment of my life. We’re now doubled over in peels of hysterical laughter. We are the kings of time and space and history. Our host comes out to present us with the trophy. Without so much as a thank you, the three of us snatch it up and take off shrieking down the path to the home of our friends. We want to revel in our victory, show them all what we’ve done like it’s world peace we’ve solved. I don’t feel sick, I don’t feel drunk, I feel like I can do absolutely anything and as far as I’m concerned, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Did I mention hindsight?

HELL

This is where another part of the story begins. It is the story of our beloved friends and housemates, who were having their own party that night. It feels right to include their point of view, on one hand because with out them, who knows what might have happened to us, and also because my own memory of this part of the evening is a blackhole. Here they were, having their own party, playing their own games and having a good time, when in we burst through the door, caked in puke, wild-eyed and screaming. One of my friends tells me that the second she saw the trophy in our hands, she knew shit was about to get bad. From what I remember, I was feeling like a million dollars; and I was absolutely ready to go out an keep the evening going. The next thing I remember I fell off my bed. The next hour was a blur of me heaving into a trash can in my room, begging my friend who been called there to help out to go home, heaving into a trash can in my room, and angry yelling. On Saturday, I woke up. Back to where we started off.

PURGATORY

I’m paralyzed in my bed. I feel fine, except for that dried out sponge feeling in my stomach. Panicked and embarrassed, I lightfoot it to the shower to rinse layer after layer of sweat and puke and trash out of my petrified hair. The water falls on my face, and my nose stings. There’s a raw patch under my right nostril. Have I been fighting? I take wipes and paper towels to the trashcans with furious urgency, as if I can pretend when my housemates wake up that they imagined my whole ridiculous parade of craziness. I can’t think what that parade is, but I know in the pit of my stomach its there. I know with certainty we have the trophy, but I can’t remember if we won the contest or we stole it.

Hungry, I dig through the fridge for a leftover Chipotle tin from yesterday. It’s gone, it’s boxtop left there on the kitchen table. Who would take advantage of a drunk person so shamefully? When my housemates are finally roused, they’re staring at me with uneasy concern. I already know amends are in order. I launch into apology after apology, and beg them to tell me what exactly happened. They look at one another. Not a good sign.

This is a laundry list of what I did that night, compiled from various sources:

-I was walked home by my friends, rambling so mightily they had no idea what I was saying.

-I tried frequently to stop and sleep in the grass, but they wouldn’t let me.

-I alternated rapid-fire between bouts of crying and manic laughter.

-I demanded my friend J. respect me and everything I’d accomplished repeatedly.

-I heaped gratuitous details on my friend V. about stuff she had no desire to know.

-My friend M. had to trick me to get me home by saying we’d go out after, because if she had tried to tell me straight up what to do I would have shot out the door into the night.

-Nobody stole my Chipotle. I forced Jo to take it, and I was extremely aggressive about it.

-Jan tried to put me to bed. I fell out.

-I skidded against the carpet a scratched up my nose.

-Jan tried to get me a trashcan, and I insisted on it being the trashcan from my room. The trashcan from my room is mesh, and although he tried to reason this out with me, I insisted, again being extremely aggressive about it.

-I heard that Jo was sick as well, and I dragged myself to the bathroom trashcan and sidled it up alongside his stall.

-I talked to Jo for about a half hour, punctuating most our statements with ‘Why did we do this?’, followed by, ‘But we won!’

-When my housemate E. came to check on me, her friend S. was standing outside talking to her. Hearing his voice I screamed ‘WHO THE FUCK IT THAT?’ Identifying him as S, I replied ‘Oh, S. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING HERE, S?’

-I heaped swear after swear on the friends who were trying to care for me, out of embarrassment that they were seeing me like this.

-I suspected that Jan was fine, which turned out to be the case. Instead of being relieved by this, I repeatedly cursed his name and swore revenge.

Oh. My. God.

If I was apologetic before, it was absolutely nothing by comparison.

EPILOGUE

My friends are great, loving people. They’ve held nothing I did against me, taking the good with the bad. The good being that they get to tease me for the rest of my life. Jan and Jo are equally wonderful. Jo is the nicest friend you could ever vomit your brains out with. If I know him, I think he’ll appreciate that sentiment. I probably hadn’t even farted in front of Jan yet when he saw me at probably the absolute worst I’ve ever been, and he still went out his way to make sure I was OK and was totally cool about it. You don’t get much greater than that, man. It later turned out we finished the Tranzia box in 27 minutes, taking an enormous lead. I don’t know if that means anything to you, but every time I tell that to someone, I swell with pride.

I think it’s pretty easy to conclude from this article that the Four de Tranzia may have been one of the most down-and-out, David Lynch-esque, crazy pants nights of my entire life. I think the takeaway for a lot of my friends who saw me is that it was not a proud moment for me. I generally agree if they voice that opinion, because it would be crazy to think otherwise. Then again, rationality has never been ranked amongst my virtues. It’s so hard to explain why I consider the Four de Tranzia one of my best recent memories. None of the badness would been worth it if the outcome had been different. I feel awful to have had people I care about witness me in such a pathetic state, and have to take care of me. My life came as close to one of my humor columns as it’s ever come. I never want to do it again as long as I live, and there’s no way I can recommend it in good conscience.

And yet…

IMG_0212

New-in-Brief SMCM Crab Feast 2014

September 27th marked the 5th annual St. Mary’s College of Maryland Crab Feast, a yearly fundraiser for the senior class that has become a popular Parent’s Weekend tradition. In past years held at the president’s house, this year’s crab fest returned the annex of the Crescent townhouses, behind the field and next to Schaefer Hall.

With three tents erected for the event, the blue registration and two large, white eating areas, the feast commenced at 5 o’clock and preceded until about 7:30 in the evening. The event was overseen by the  Student Activities office and several student volunteers. Tickets sold prior to the event had sold out, and attendance proved very good on the warm, seasonable afternoon. “We’ve done really well so far.” said Kelly Shroeder, the Assistant Dean of Students at about 6:00 pm. “Almost everyone who bought tickets has shown up, and extra people have shown up and we’ve had extra crabs to sell them, so it’s been great.”

Of the people that attended, the vast majority were families and many were the families of first years attending the feast for the first time. First year Katie Huerta attended the crab feast with her mother. When asked if they were enjoying and if there was enough to go around, they agreed on both counts.

“It just seems like a good family outing.” Said first year Mary Beth Anderson, there with her family. And indeed, many of the other family there for parents weekend seemed to agree.

Crab feast is fast becoming a popular annual tradition at the college, and the proceeds of the feast go to funding the senior class.

 

First Responder Splits off into Peer Health and a Brand New Initiative (by Holly Gonzalez and Delia Titzell)

As of the start of the 2014-2015 academic year, the group formerly known as the First Responders have changed their name to Sexual Misconduct Advocacy and Resource Team (S.M.A.R.T.) The name change comes as an effort to reduce confusion of the group with an emergency medical or first aid team. S.M.A.R.T. hopes that the name change will prevent the student trainees from being mistaken for EMTs and called in the event of a medical emergency. “If you call, we will of course do our best to help you,” said Nick Tosini, a sophomore and a member of S.M.A.R.T., “but we might not be your best resource if your call is about a broken arm.”

The group is now under the direction of Kristen McGeeney, the College’s Title IX coordinator. Previously, the First Responders and Peer Health Educators received a lot of the same training and were managed by the sexual assault/wellness advocate. Now the groups operate as separate entities, which focuses the attention of S.M.A.R.T. on addressing sexual misconduct issues on campus.

Under the direction of the Title IX coordinator, the members now operate as “responsible employees.” When a student calls the S.M.A.R.T. phone they are able to remain anonymous, but the information shared in the conversation will be logged and reported to the Title IX coordinator and will only be shared on a “need to know” basis. Previously, the group was considered a confidential resource to students. The implementation of mandatory reporting is an effort to increase the response of the College to sexual misconduct issues. Senior Dylan Hadfield, a former First Responder, said, “Many people who have experienced sexual violence just want to talk. Some of them only want to go to counseling. Not all victims want an investigation. People have to think from the point of view of a survivor who might rather go over a list of resources with one First Responder and choose what they want to do. That is essentially, for me, the big difference between mandatory reporting and the original First Responders’ role I signed up for.” Kristen McGeeney provides clarification on the changes in confidentiality. “When a report of sexual misconduct (in any of its many forms) is made to the College, the victim/survivor doesn’t lose control of what happens afterward.  Our process is set up to support our students and provide a fair and equitable process to those involved.  We provide options and resources, formal and informal resolution, and seek to provide the tools with which victims and survivors can make informed choices for themselves about what options they want to pursue.”

Students also have other resources. Rachel Honig, the current sexual assault advocate, is available to talk in a confidential setting in Chance Hall. The Peer Health Educators also have drop in office hours in Chance Hall on Mondays in which students can talk through their stresses with a peer.  S.M.A.R.T. members offered themselves as a resource during new student orientation, and were present for anyone emotionally triggered by the “Sex Signals” performance. They also assisted in the “About Last Night” performance by informing students about different scenarios regarding sexual misconduct. Additionally, during the week of September 8, 2014, S.M.A.R.T. assisted with bystander intervention training; which is now a requirement for new students in their core classes as part of their 5th hour component.

Due to the quick implementation of the changes, many students have been left unaware of what the changes mean for the future. “This is the first I’ve heard of getting rid of Green Dot…” said Dylan Hadfield who is currently studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. The removal of Green Dot comes as a result of the incorrect implementation of  the program at St. Mary’s; which was not in line with the overarching Green Dot program, so the name will need to change in order to prevent violation of their rules. Kristen McGeeney, emphasizes the ongoing importance of bystander intervention in preventing sexual violence on campus in the midst of the elimination of Green Dot. “This doesn’t mean that we should do away with bystander intervention education–in fact, it’s a critically important piece of our overall strategy to prevent violence on our campus. What we need to work on now is either the groundwork for a future re-launch of Green Dot under the requirements of the program, or building a new bystander intervention program by using the concepts behind Green Dot and applying our own unique St. Mary’s perspective.”

“Whoever is the harmed victim we are on your side 100 percent; it doesn’t matter how long ago it happened or what time of day you call, we are going to do everything in our power to help you every step of the way,” said Sam Feller ’15, current S.M.A.R.T member. The S.M.A.R.T. phone line can be reached anytime at 301-934-2015.