The University of Oregon Men’s Center recently revamped its mission to start fighting “toxic masculinity,” now a monumental effort that will cost the student body nearly $90,000 this upcoming school year alone.
Founded in 2002, the Men’s Center initially served as a hangout for men to learn about healthy living and nutrition. But in early February, the Men’s Center was taken over by a young woman who announced that it would be overhauled to focus on social justice.
“We are working towards the radical idea of a socially just world. For far too long men have been absent from the discussion of social equality,” reads a February 2018 announcement. “Our focus is to use social justice… to reconstruct what we know masculinity to be.”
Now, the Men’s Center organizes events exclusively to fight “toxic masculinity.”
According to their website, toxic masculinity includes “outbursts of anger, emotional repression… when men engage in catcalling, physical touch without consent, and even just very obviously looking a woman up and down.”
Since it was initially founded by students, the Men’s Center runs as a student club. Even so, it is essentially a para-administrative operation with a full-time staff member and an exclusive office space in the school’s Student Center.
Of course, because the Men’s Center is still technically a club, it is funded by mandatory student fees. According to the recently approved 2018-2019 Budget Book, a copy of which was obtained by PJ Media, the Men’s Center is slated to cost students $89,910 next year.
For comparison, the Jewish Student Union will cost students $4,100 next year, the Jam Squad is earmarked $275, and the Geology Club will get $8,150. PJ Media asked UO why the Men’s Center was approved for such an unusually high amount, but received no response.
UO students PJ Media spoke with expressed various concerns.
McKenna Sjoden, 19, suspects the Men’s Center will unintentionally be detrimental to male students. “Training men to believe that masculinity is a bad thing creates way more problems than it fixes,” she told PJ Media on Wednesday.
“It’s ridiculous that [the student government] allocates $90,000 a year to this organization,” she said, adding that it is “detrimental to men when you use terms like ‘toxic masculinity’ and imply that… bad behaviour… has something to do with their manhood.”
Alec Sapolin, 18, criticized the mandatory fee that funds the center, which amounts to $238.50 per semester or roughly $3,000 per student over four years.
“I don’t want my money to be stolen — literally the only way to describe this nonsense — in an attempt to feed more nonsense and rhetoric down my throat,” Sapolin told PJ Media.
Khang Ngo, 26, the president of the school’s Turning Point USA chapter, also spoke to PJ Media.
He said in an interview Wednesday that he doesn’t object to mandatory fees to support clubs, but claimed there is a “huge disparity” between the funding for liberal clubs and that for conservative clubs.
“The student government has been spending lots of money on leftist groups like the Men’s Center, while at the same time they only give $800 annually for the College Republicans club and $500 a year for my Turning Point USA chapter.”
He suggested that if students must continue to pay the fee to support student clubs, then each student should be able to apportion their fee as they see fit. “That way, student groups could compete with one another for funds by providing a better service.”
Such a program, he offered, would be like “a free market but for college clubs.”
PJ Media reached out to UO officials, but did not receive a response despite repeated requests. This article will be updated if and when a response is received.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen.