GVSU to host lectures on violence prevention

Ben Glick

Few clubs are as motivated to improve lifestyle on campus as Men in Action. A recent addition to
student life, Men in Action was founded to advance gender relations and create a healthy atmosphere
to encourage dialogue on the subject.

“Obviously, most men are not perpetrators,” Women’s Center intern Trey Sumner said. “But for a lot of
people, this is the first time being away from home, and some don’t know how to act.”

The club aims to create lasting change and hopes to address problems faced by female students by
identifying key problems within the modern ideals of masculinity that have contributed to violence on
and off campus. The organization has decided to focus on preventing physical and sexual abuse of
women by directly confronting masculine standards and teaching men to act to the contrary.

“I’ve had people who are surprised when I tell them this kind of stuff happens on this campus,”
Sumner said. “But whether or not we address it, it still happens.”

This comes at a time when the Men in Action organization is hosting its own series of lectures and
dialogues. The conferences put on by Men in Action have been taking place over the last few weeks in
what the organization calls “preparatory lectures.” The main event will take place Oct. 11 when well-
known sociologists Byron Hurt and Michael Kimmel, experts in gender relations, will speak in the
Grand River Room at the Kirkhof Center.

Michael Kimmel, distinguished professor of Sociology at the Stony Brook University in New York, will
speak in the morning installment of the conference. He specializes in gender studies, is the founder
and editor of the academic journal Men and Masculinities, and is a spokesperson of the National
Organization for Men Against Sexism.

Byron Hurt, who will speak in the evening, is an activist, lecturer, writer and award-winning
documentary filmmaker. In 2010, he hosted the Emmy-nominated television show, Reel Works with
Byron Hurt. His first documentary to broadcast nationally on PBS was “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and
Rhymes,” which explores the issues of masculinity, violence, homophobia and sexism in hip-hop
music and culture.

Sumner maintains that an event like this being implemented by the university is a privilege, but the
event is free and open to all students.

“To have guys like this here is a real opportunity,” he said. “This should cost something far more than
it is being offered.”

Both Kimmel and Hurt will be present after their presentations to answer students’ questions.

“That’s really the beauty of it,” Sumner said. “Because it isn’t just a lecture. If we wanted to watch
someone talk, we could just rent a video, but we have access to these men and also a round table
discussion including students.”

He said he hopes this will not just begin the conversation at GVSU but will also carry a lasting
impression for students once they leave and spark more dialogue in universities across the country.
Sumner said GVSU is a pioneer in this regard.

“Nobody is doing anything like this else anywhere right now,” he said. “This really is designed for
Grand Valley.”

Other schools have also decided to contribute, including Calvin College and Aquinas College, but the
event has been organized and will be hosted by GVSU.

To learn how to get involved with Men in Action or the conference, contact the GVSU Women’s Center
at 616-331-2748.

[email protected]