The "Man" in Roman: The Truth about Men's Alliance

Tina Czaplinska Co-Editor-in-Chief Believe it or not, they’re everywhere. Roaming the halls, sitting next to you in class, maybe living in your house, and perhaps even talking to you on a daily basis. Men. Latin is pretty aware of this issue—the influx of the sexes everywhere—so Latin has established clubs like LAW, and Men’s Alliance to cope. Since LAW does an amazing job on raising awareness about women’s issues, we often get so wrapped up that we forgot about, oh, half of the population. Despite this, Latin’s Men’s Alliance has always been going strong. Currently, the club is raising the curtain of its infamous privacy and hoping to reveal its true values and intentions. Started nearly twenty years ago, the club’s faculty facilitators are presently Mr. Fript, Mr. Haverland, and Mr. Cushman. While two decades alludes to opportunity for lots of metamorphosis, Mr. Fript admits that the club hasn’t really changed at all. “The club was started way back when and actually began as Discussion on a More Inclusive Curriculum, a group Ms. Dorer started for the faculty,” explains Mr. Fript. “Those discussions led to my reading about some specific issues impacting men. That was followed several years later by a visit from Dr Michael Thompson who wrote Raising Cain. He discussed the problem of emotional illiteracy of boys and following his first visit we created the Alliance. Now it serves a two-fold function: global set of men’s issues and emotional intelligence.” Amidst all that fancy talk, the latter clause refers to the destruction of emotional intentions and the tendency for boys to be divorced from their feelings. Through this, one gets debased societal expectations on what being a man really is. And as spot-on as societal classifications are, they’re actually not. “It is like the saying, ‘white men don’t have a right to complain.’ Everyone has the same types of problems. We are hoping to allow these boys to be more open and develop their comfort zones,” continues Mr. Haverland. Aware of the suffocation of living up to whatever “being a man” really means, Men’s Alliance ultimately wants to allow Latin’s male community a chance to redefine that idea. Member since freshman year, junior Steven Grotewold believes that the club offers a safe, honest environment. “Oftentimes, guys are fed this notion that you have to hold in your feelings or you’ll get ridiculed. The club really helped me by setting an example, giving me constant support and advice.” Junior Jacob Hirshman also joined the club his freshman year and stresses, “I think that the club lives up to its goal of discussing the gender issues men face. It offers a safe space for when you just want to talk about something.” Senior Aaron Monieson joined Men’s Alliance junior year and is really thankful for the club. “I think that starting high school is a big change and sometimes even a culture shock, which can cause a lot of guys to struggle. You come in feeling like John Wayne and you leave feeling like Gumpy. So I think one aspect of the club is to help relieve some of that stress,” says Aaron. Another very public aspect of Men’s Alliance is its confidentiality. First rule of Men’s Alliance is that you don’t talk about Men’s Alliance. “I think the confidentiality gets people sidetracked. People speculate that these conversations are gossip. Using the club for gossip purpose is abusing the club and it isn’t the message we’re sending,” underlines Jacob. “If people are looking for something to criticize about the club, the confidentially is number one on that list. And I guess it comes down to understanding that we’re not all sitting around complaining. Also, the recent awareness we are trying to spread about the club’s safe space has no validity if the environment—Latin’s environment—isn’t having it,” continues Steven. “The confidentially doesn’t just add to the safety of the club but also hones in on the focus of the club,” explains Mr. Fript. “It simply doesn’t limit what you’re going to say and sometimes you just need to get your feelings out there,” says Aaron. Recently, Men’s Alliance has been focusing on the first part of its mission statement—raising global awareness. Steven explains that the H block presentation* shed light to the “increasing suicides in young men as a result of suppressing feelings and maintaining being ‘manly.’” “Mr. Fript and I are really not pushing the boys to do anything. The boys take ownership of their actions for this club,” says Mr. Haverland. In the future, Men’s Alliance hopes to hold more presentations throughout the year and even attempt to integrate some presentations to the middle school. Men’s Alliance also hopes to participate in upcoming affinity group breakfast on December 6. Junior Caroline Kaplan explains that this breakfast hopes to “take steps to obliterating these obstacles—like societal gender norms—by first acknowledging them.” So, in its twenty years, Men’s Alliance is currently attracting a lot of attention from the Latin community. “Men’s Alliance is about accepting and respecting ourselves. Ultimately teaching us how to become better men, better people,” concludes Aaron. ________________________________________ *if you missed their recent presentation and wish to know more about the topic consider watching: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZNKlUmFkG4]]>