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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC men's project set to start

The UNC Men’s Project’s main goal is to provide a safe space for men to discuss issues of masculinity and what it means to be a man, and then translates these thoughts into violence prevention and gender equality. This is done through a semester-long program with meetings each week.

The group started at the beginning of 2014 and has since put one group of men through its 12-week program during the spring 2014 semester. Bob Pleasants, assistant director of the Learning Center and a member of the project’s advisory board this semester, helped found the project.

“It’s been a long-brewing idea for a long time,” Pleasants said. “A lot of people, including myself, have wanted a program for men to talk about masculinity and help men think about what their role can be in violence prevention.”

The project was initially paid for by a grant of about $25,000 from the Verizon Foundation, and the project received another grant for an unspecified amount this year. The money has allowed the group to bring in guest speakers and facilitators for the group’s meetings, as well as hire a graduate student to coordinate the program.

Will McInerney, the program assistant for the project, said the spoken word group Sacrificial Poets played a very important role in the project during the spring semester.

“We aim to infuse creative expression and storytelling as a tenet of our approach to better understanding the spectrum of healthy masculinities and how that can positively influence effective violence prevention,” McInerney said in an email.

Pleasants said he is expecting about the same number of men to go through the project this semester.

“When we began the program, we weren’t really sure what we’d get,” said Pleasants. “We thought we’d get a small handful, but we actually had about 35 applications. As far as men who were a good fit for the program, we ended up with 24 men who were participants in the program this spring. It exceeded our expectations.”

Anondo Banerjee, a senior who participated in the project last year, said he found the program to be beneficial.

“Everyone has a stereotype of masculinity, and I don’t think anyone fits into that stereotype of masculinity, and most people don’t want to talk about how they don’t fit into that stereotype, so having a safe space to talk about that was really nice,” Banerjee said. “Also, they’re great guys.”

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