GVSU staff member mentors men, teaches to stand against violence

Leah Mitchell

Rough and tough. Built with muscles that can withstand anything. A “real man” is someone who is ultra-macho, super cool and extremely violent.

MarcQus Wright is setting out to show people that this statement isn’t always true.

As an assistant living center director at Grand Valley State University, Wright takes on much more than just his housing position. Serving as an adviser to the College Men’s Group and as a mentor to Brothers: The Black Male Scholars Initiative, Wright “brings a strong sense of professionalism, education and dedication toward creating social justice,” said Theresa Rowland of GVSU’s Women’s Center.

Leading the College Men’s Group alongside Brian Bossick since fall of 2011, Wright said he hopes the students they meet with will continue to follow through with the group’s mission “to explore and discuss the culture of masculinity and manhood, while raising awareness and actively working to create environments free from violence.”

In October 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded the Women’s Center at GVSU $265,000 within its Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Grant that was designed to strengthen the university’s response to sexual assault, stalking, dating and domestic violence to enhance collaboration among campus and community partners. Under the direction of this grant, one of the aspects of the College Men’s Group is to work with male faculty, staff and students to stand up and take a role in ending violence against women.

“We are fortunate to have MarcQus and other men on campus provide leadership in engaging men in discussions around societal and behavioral norms of men and masculinity,” Rowland said.
In October of 2013, a College Men’s Conference will be hosted at GVSU to provide men awareness and knowledge to aid in violence prevention. Wright said the conference will also look to “spark action aimed at creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women.”

Open to all male students, faculty and staff, the conference will ultimately include learning about how societal gender scripts impact a man’s development, discovering the influence of mass media and gender stereotypes, and gaining awareness and knowledge of men’s roles as preventers of sexual violence. Men will be able to register for this conference in late summer and early fall of 2013.

The College Men’s Group has also participated in a variety of programs throughout this semester. It will continue to have twice-monthly meetings that will resume in January.

In addition to this organization, Wright also mentors a group that he helped start, Brothers: The Black Male Scholars Initiative. Sparked by numerous conversations with colleagues across campus, the needs of black men were discussed with Wright and other men. Common themes were mentorship, both personal and professional development and academic success. Wright met regularly with staff and faculty members Patrick Wilson, Sean Huddleston, Damon Arnold, Louis Moore and Quincy Williams to develop a plan of action, which eventually developed into the group’s mission: To significantly increase GVSU’s retention, progression and graduation of black males.

“My passion for working with men has come through education on the topic,” Wright said. “Ten years ago, I am uncertain if I would be ready to serve in such a capacity. Through awareness and knowledge I have come to understand the importance of working (with) men on understanding how they can shape their own lives versus living up to society’s hyper-masculine and violent standards. As a black man I understand how difficult it can be to adjust to a predominantly white college or university. This is why my dissertation will focus on black men. There is so much more we can learn in order to help more black men become successful. I want to give back what was given to me when I was in college. Without the mentorship and guidance of many I am uncertain that I would be where I am today.”

Brothers is presently looking to participate heavily in Martin Luther King week as well as submit a program proposal for leadership summit.

The group meets on Thursdays once a month with active involvement in service projects as well as a variety of other programs.

“My hope is that in both instances students will stand up to become involved in these initiatives,” Wright said. “I hope they see the value and decide to contribute as well as getting more men involved.”

To find out more about the College Men’s Group or Brothers, contact MarcQus Wright at [email protected]
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