CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated the aim of the One Act program at UNC. The program is focused on educating the community about the role of bystanders in preventing interpersonal violence. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
This semester, a group of male students will begin tackling one of the toughest questions: What does it mean to be a man?
Apply for the project
Time: Applications due Jan. 20, program
begins the week of Feb. 3
The UNC Men’s Project will bring together about 20 male students from diverse backgrounds to discuss masculinity and interpersonal violence prevention. The project, funded by a grant from the Verizon Foundation for almost $24,000, will begin the week of Feb. 3 and last 12 weeks.
Students have until Jan. 20 to apply to be a part of the group, which will create a peer educator curriculum and a social media campaign.
Bob Pleasants, UNC’s interpersonal violence prevention coordinator, said they made the application available last week, and by Friday, the group had already received submssions.
“I think we’re going to get a strong pool of men,” he said.
Pleasants, who is on the project’s advisory board, said he has wanted to put together this project for five years and hopes it will continue in future years. He said the goal is to create a space where men can talk openly about masculinity and become educated on violence prevention. He said he hopes those students will then go out into the larger campus and educate those around them.
Rebecca Macy, associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Social Work, said projects that involve men have shown great promise in interpersonal violence prevention.
“There is a lot of evidence that shows changing norms in a given community can be really valuable and can reduce sexual assault in a given community or on a given campus,” she said.
Macy said sexual assault programs generally focus heavily on empowering women to prevent attacks. But recently, she said, programs have begun to focus on primary prevention — changing male attitudes toward women in order to prevent potential attacks.
“More and more the researchers in this field are thinking, ‘We need to get men involved in this,’” she said.
Ping Nguyen, a senior who said he is passionate about ending interpersonal violence, said it is incredibly important for men to get involved in violence prevention.
“It’s important to have men involved in the conversation to rethink masculinity,” he said. “It says to the nation that UNC is serious about taking on interpersonal violence.”
Macy said she hasn’t seen many programs like the UNC’s Men’s Project, and she’s happy to see the University be innovative with violence prevention. She emphasized that the reality is most men never commit acts of sexual violence and that there’s potential in collaborating with men on violence prevention.
“Most of us will never be victims and most of us will never perpetrate, but we all want to live in violence-free communities.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.