Several male administrators and faculty members have started a support group for men at the University in an attempt to combat acquaintance rape. Group member Bob Gross, a social work intern for University Counseling Services, said yesterday the group evolved out of an October workshop sponsored by Students Together Against Acquaintance Rape. He said men at the session realized that men need to be educated about acquaintance rape. "Much of the energy behind STAAR is from women, yet men are most often the ones responsible for [the rapes]," Gross said. "A rape has to do with the way people communicate in relationships and the way men define themselves in terms of gender," Gross said. "As we came together we realized that the issue we needed to address among ourselves was what does it mean to be masculine in this society at this time." The organization, which has about 15 members, is the latest attempt by people on campus to battle the prevalent problem of acquaintance rape. Over the past few years, University students have formed STAAR, and have tried to raise awareness through events such as the Take Back the Night rally last spring. Also, the administration compiled and distributed pamphlets on acquaintance rape prevention. Women's Alliance member Carla Hutton said last night she is pleased that men formed a group to address the problems of sexual violence, saying it is important for men to understand that the "assumptions" made about women are not always true. "It is encouraging to see that male administrators see there is a problem and that they can actively combat it," Hutton said. Some group members said they expect criticism from women's organizations which may see the group as "expressing backlash," but members said the purpose of the group is not anti-feminist. "I would expect that it would make some people nervous," Gross said. "We're at where the women's movement was 20 years ago. We're meeting among ourselves and figuring out who we are." "If people know what we're about, we won't be threatening to anybody," he added. Members said they have heard no complaints thus far. "It's kind of scary to see men with power in their own group," Hutton said. "But because there is public knowledge of it I'm reassured." Hutton said the fact that the group does not try to hide its activities may soothe many women's fears. Group member Thomas Goldstein, executive director of the American Association of University Students, said the group came together to "discuss the lack of education [about gender roles] from the male perspective." "We want people to be able to approach the issue," Goldstein said. "There are a lot of articulate women, but few men are willing to go out on a limb." Goldstein said the group may concentrate on fostering positive male role models and developing educational programs for first year students to prevent acquaintance rape. He said one problem for men on this campus is the lack of a broad-based male support group. Gross said members plan to work with male students through STAAR and through their positions at the University. He said the group is also planning a symposium for next semester which will focus on "being male in these troubling times." "We're concerned about sexual violence and we're trying to find the most effective educational angle that will reach the most people most effectively," Gross said. According to members, male issues groups have sprung up at universities across the country. Gross said some schools have also started male studies programs.Comments powered by Disqus
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