Supporting Men at UVM
The Men's Outreach Coordinator
The University of Vermont’s Counseling and Psychiatry Services offers support, education and outreach for male students, and the broader community through the position of the Men’s Outreach Coordinator (MOC). Keith E. Smith has served as the MOC since 2006 with the goal of fostering healthy masculine identity development and non-violence.
Keith’s primary position is that of a mental health counselor providing general counseling, crisis counseling, and assessment, and case management and referral for male students. He has extensive training and experience working with male students individually and in group settings. He provides advocacy, support and resources for men who may be involved in campus judicial hearings. Additionally, he conducts, participates in and organizes events that are related to the physical, psychological and emotional needs of male students. This entails conducting educational workshops, trainings and outreach to students, staff and faculty throughout the school year. He has in the last few years provided training and consultations with the Greek community, the Athletic Department, and the Opening Weekend Program to name a few. He frequently presents at the Dismantling Rape Conference, which is hosted by UVM’s Women’s Center. He has presented at NASPA conferences as well as local conferences on issues related to masculinity and violence prevention. He also has conducted workshops with sports teams at St. Michaels and Champlain College. He frequently invites educators and speakers to UVM to educate the broader community on issues related men and masculinity, and violence prevention. He currently co-facilitates Project Discovery in conjunction with the Center for Student Ethics and Standards (CSES). Project Discovery is an alternative to suspension program designed to increase participants’ awareness of their gender role socialization, masculinity, substance use/abuse, and violence prevention.
Violence against Men
Men’s violence against men is a subject that is seldom discussed. Graham-Kevan (2007) states: “The lack of interest and concern for violence against men has limited our understanding of violence and victimization in general, including violence against women” (p.3). Generally, when the topic of men’s violence is broached, one assumes the issue is men’s violence against women. Viewed through this lens, violence is gendered with men as perpetrators and women as victims. In fact, the majority of men are not violent. In actuality, a small minority of men commit the majority of acts of violence against women and men.
College males: Violent victimization and suicide
Young men’s identity is the culmination of status, competition through sport, physical force and authority over women, and domination and humiliation of lower status men. Men between the ages of 18-24, whether attending college or not, can expect to be victims of violence twice as likely as women (BJS, 2005). Statistics from the Department of Justice (DOJ), and The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) demonstrate that college-age males are twice as likely than females to be victims of violence. Aggravated assault is the primary crime committed by men against this age group.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for males’ aged 15-24. This age group dies approximately six times more frequently from suicide than females. White male suicide rates are the second highest among all nationalities; Native Americans have the highest rates of suicide (NAHIC, 2006). Courtenay (1998) suggests that men’s effort to conceal their vulnerability contribute to their non-help seeking behaviors (p.281). These statistics support the premise that men are victims of various forms of violence at higher rates than women. Yet, little is said about this phenomenon except when some incident momentarily captures the nations’ attention. Traditional notions of masculinity make it difficult to accept the reality that in American society, boys and men are the primary victims of violence. This fact in no way diminishes violence against women.
The socialization of boys and young men into masculinity involves emotional, psychological and physical violence. As violence is perpetrated upon them and others, they learn to remain silent. Recent revelations by former boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard illustrate this point. Leonard revealed that as a teenager, two men in positions of authority in his life sexually assaulted him on several occasions. He also reported that after he became a champion, he would often burst into tears, and in his own words “No one asked why I was crying.” Leonard’s story illustrates that boys and men experience various forms of violence throughout their lifespan. The story also shows how gender role expectations placed on boys and men limit their willingness to seek support if they believe that it will result in their being perceived as weak. A cultural paradigm shift must occur in how we view men and the impact violence has on their lives. The need for creating an environment in which men are able to talk about and report violence cannot be emphasized enough.
The Men’s Outreach Coordinator and the Center for Health and Wellbeing promote:
- An atmosphere whereby men feel safe and empowered to discuss and report any violence they experience or witness. Violence in this regard includes physical assault, psychological, relationship violence, and sexual assault to appropriate authorities;
- Increased public awareness through education and outreach;
- Psychological counseling and other male victim centered services;
- Education to UVM Service providers (e.g. Police Service, Rescue services, Residential staff, Medical staff on issues related to men and masculinity;
- Service learning and leadership opportunities for men to end campus-based violence against men and women; and,
- Continued collaborate with the Women’s Center to create more effective strategies in providing victim services geared toward women and men.
2012 Men's Outreach Events:
- 2012: "Sex, Hooking-up and How to Find Love: A Group for Men" and "Sex, Hooking-up & Consent: What You Need to Know"
- 2010: Film screen and discussion: "Manual for Building Disfunctional Men: And How to Make Repairs"
- 2008: Mens Awareness Week
- 2007: Mens's Awareness Week
- 2006 News Article: "At UVM, Former NFL Star Addresses Being a Man"
- "Eradicating Student-Athlete Sexual Assault of Women", By Keith Smith and Timothy Davis, published in the Michigan State Law Review [Vol. 2009:629]
Last modified August 27 2012 02:10 PM