MasculinUT is undergoing changes after conservative media outlets last semester said UT treats masculinity as a “mental health issue.”
MasculinUT, a program created to address interpersonal violence and sexual assault by increasing masculine involvement, reconvened this semester after a five-month hiatus. Following an attack from the conservative blog PJ Media, UT made changes to the program to assure its mission is clearly aligned with its original intent, including moving the program from the Counseling and Mental Health Center to the Office of the Dean of Students.
“We don’t ever want anyone to think that we’re treating masculinity as a mental health issue,” CMHC director Chris Brownson said. “By making that move (to the Dean of Students), it’ll remove any barriers for us to be able to really move forward with the program.”
MasculinUT’s webpage will also undergo a full audit to reorganize information that appeared too dense and extensive. They will create a new publicly accessible wiki page to host certain information from the webpage instead, such as the available educational resources related to masculinity social norms and interpersonal violence. While such information is relevant to the research, it appeared to stray from the intended mission of program, according to the recommendations from the MasculinUT steering committee which is made up of 22 students, staff and faculty.
After facing allegations that the University treats masculinity as a “mental disorder” last May, the program said on its website that such statements were not accurate. However, MasculinUT will remove these responses from their website and hire a full-time employee specifically to support the program.
Eva Villanueva, a research associate for the Center for Mexican American Studies Department who went to a MasculinUT event two weeks ago, said she supports the MasculinUT change and is glad that they’re continuing the program.
“I think the changes are positive,” Villanueva said. “Perhaps rebranding will help them convey a clearer message.”
Austin Smith, a government and economics senior who was part of the MasculinUT poster campaign last year, said not only is he glad that the program is continuing but that it’s essential for the University.
“I think the students here understand the importance of talking about gender,” Smith said. “MasculinUT was never an attack on men or masculinity. If anything, it was a celebration of how varied and unique men can be when they have the space to be themselves instead of having to try to ‘be a man.’”