New conference will address masculinity, anti-violence work

MIA Conference speakers from left, Byron Hurt and Michael Kimmel.
MIA Conference speakers from left, Byron Hurt and Michael Kimmel.
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Grand Valley State University will host a new conference that will explore the culture of masculinity and manhood, and challenge gender norms of violence and sexual assault on campus.

The Men in Action conference, held in conjunction with national Domestic Violence Awareness Month, will take place October 11 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center. It is free for students, faculty and staff members, and $25 for members of the community. Register at www.gvsu.edu/mia.

“The point of this conference is to have men and others from the campus community come to discuss public stereotypes of gender-biased violence, in particular sexual assault, and ways to create lasting change, which can be difficult to address,” said Trey Sumner, conference organizer and intern for the Women’s Center.

Two notable sociologists will give presentations. Byron Hurt is a well-known activist, writer and award-winning filmmaker, and hosted the Emmy-nominated television show “Reel Works with Byron Hurt.” Michael Kimmel is founder of the academic journal Men and Masculinities, is a distinguished professor at Stony Brook University, and a spokesperson for the National Organization for Men Against Sexism.

The conference is organized by the Men In Action subcommittee of the Campus Violence Prevention Team at Grand Valley. It is chaired by Santiago Gayton, coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and MarcQus Wright, director of the Education Support Program. The conference is a component of the men’s initiative through the current Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women campus grant. Grand Valley recently received a three-year continuation grant from VAWA to further its efforts.

Sumner, a liberal studies major with an emphasis in masculinity studies and gender equity, served in the military for 22 years before coming to Grand Valley in 2009. He said hopes to establish an ongoing conversation about masculinity issues after the conference.

The MIA subcommittee has been hosting several seminars throughout the fall semester. The last seminar, “Becoming a Man: The complex process of understanding and redefining,” will take place on October 3 at 6 p.m. in room 2263 of the Kirkhof Center. Wright will present.

Visit www.gvsu.edu/women_cen for more information about Domestic Violence Awareness Month events at Grand Valley.