OPINION: Men’s Officers should definitely exist at universities

Last week, Unified published an opinion piece on why a Men’s officer should NOT exist. Now, Thomas Marchelak wants to argue for the other side…

Until the past week, I was oblivious to the fact that a University of West of England (UWE) had introduced ‘liberation’ roles. One of these included a Men’s Officer role.

This was followed by a smattering of praise and a widespread barrage of abuse, both internally and on social media.

Personally, I’ve found the reactions to be ignorant, dismissive and ultimately belittling to the pressures and constraints a modern man may feel.

Oppression…

The reactions? Trolling. Bullying by any name. It has already quickly led to the resignation of UWE student James Knight, the only candidate for the Men’s Officer role – who received abuse and even death threats online.

He told the BBC: “To me that was for fighting for men’s mental health, particularly because of the young male mental health epidemic that we have in the UK and in the Bristol area.

“We have a huge problem where young men are not coming forward to talk about their mental health and that’s led to a high rate of young men taking their lives.”

He’s not wrong.

Far and away, across all ages, suicide is a huge issue for men in this country. Having experienced these issues first hand, it sticks in the teeth.

It is an insidious, all consuming mantra that a man doesn’t show ‘weakness’ prevalent in all age groups across the population.

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To focus solely on this, however, is an attempt at sidetracking and boxing the issue…

Somewhat coincidentally, the majority of voices in opposition to this post will not be male. Disappointing, really. We are supposed to stand unified for equality and to fight discrimination in all its forms.

In this age we are moving towards the importance of individualism and identity but to want representation as a man and we’re back to the idea of men being the established power. The group that is essentially alluded to as an enemy of personal freedoms. It’s bigoted and we should expect more.

An issue of men not being a minority and not needing a voice because they’re ‘always heard’ is common retort in this argument. As I, myself, found in the forum from which I first saw this story.  Unified reports UCAS statistics that women outnumber men at university.

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Student statistics at UWE

Take a straw poll and you’ll find distinct issues that would benefit from representation:

Paternity rights

Time off to transition into fatherhood, custody rights or legal status.

Homelessness

According to CHAIN Report of Greater London, 85% of rough sleepers are men. More than 1 in 3 of these are aged between 18-35.

Domestic Abuse

Mankind found that 8.8% of men have been a victim of domestic abuse since the age of 16, and that they are over three times more likely not to report abuse. If they do they are only 1 in 10 feel able to go to the police.

Men’s Health

From a disparity in awareness and funding for testicular and prostate cancers to issues with fertility and impotence.

Ultimately I guess my point is there is a need to talk. Directly or indirectly, men are isolated from support and kinship or feel shame in reaching out. Just like anyone else we need someone to stand up for us.

Disclaimer: Views, thoughts and opinions expressed on this article solely belong to the author and does not represent the views of Unified as an organisation.
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Claisse Opulencia

Editor-in-Chief of Unified. Claisse is a third year multimedia journalism student at CCCU. Amnesty Media Award Finalist 2018, IRN Awards Runner-up 2018 and nominated for two SPA Awards 2018.

One thought on “OPINION: Men’s Officers should definitely exist at universities

  • 30/10/2018 at 10:45 am
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    Cards on the table – I’m 55, Male, Mature student, with 40 years of bi-polar behind me. Officer roles, be they in Local Government, workplaces, Unions or Universities were designed to redress the balance where specific groups were unheard or under-privileged. Rightly, Disabled groups campaign for access, Ethnic groups fight discrimination, Women’s groups want equal opportunity and pay (still nowhere near, by the way). Men have had the upper hand for millennia.
    If men have a problem with mental health, physical health or suicidal thoughts there are medical professionals available, just as there are for women. An officer won’t make a difference. If you have problems regarding paternity rights, homelessness (at Uni? Really?), domestic abuse there is pastoral care, Charities and the Police. None of these problems are gender specific. Help is available for these issues for both sexes without the need for an officer.
    Is the real concern here that women now outnumber men at university, as they do in the rest of the world?
    If men struggle to talk about their issues (and I agree, they do) because to do so is weak then having the option to go to another man to do so compounds the problem further. I always found it easier to talk to a woman.
    Oh, and I don’t see many men being forced into a ‘sex for accommodation’ scenario either. If they exist, they’re keeping very quiet about it.

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