As today is the last day of March and our Gentlemen’s Showcase’s grand finale, I thought I should keep with the theme of supporting young men on college campuses. Inside Higher Ed published an article today, “What Men Need,” an interview with the male presidents of the only four all-male colleges–Wabash College, Morehouse College, Hampden-Sydney College, and Saint John’s University. It seems as though the Network of enlightened Women isn’t the only group concerned about the well-being of young men on college campuses. The presidents of these colleges joined together for a meeting of the Men’s Studies Association recently, the first time since 2001. Each shared the ways in which they seek to foster achievement and honorable behavior in young men. The gist of the message of the meeting? Young men need our help:
“Even if they feel pleased with their efforts to reach young men, all [presidents] suggested that the United States is in trouble if it doesn’t find a way to reach more men. The presidents stressed the importance of linking values to the educational experience — and said that they believed young men need (and want) more structure than they may realize is the case.”
I found encouragement in what these presidents are seeking to do on their campuses and how they are working to empower young men to achieve. And empower them not in a chauvinistic sense, but in a way that encourages individual responsibility, respect, honorable behavior, and academic ambition. The presidents’ remarks were insightful in their understanding of the culture and climate young men face today.
Robert Franklin, President of Morehouse College, is committed to equipping young men. Regarding the state of collegiate males, Franklin said,
“Young men tend to be hero-worshipers and want to align themselves with winners,” he said. But many young men today “don’t feel particularly exceptional,” so colleges’ messages need to be sensitive to that, he said.
Both Franklin and Christopher Howard, President of Hampden-Sydney College, believe young men need role models who act like “coaches” to encourage and teach them. Howard goes onto say how men need to learn the importance of individual responsibility:
“There is a false dichotomy between the dean of students and the dean of the faculty,” he said. Every professor, he continued, should be teaching Hampden-Sydney students to be men, not just how to master a discipline.
Interestingly, these Presidents all spoke in favor of the advancement of women. They argued that there is a need for Americans to help more men enter and excel in college but not at the detriment of young women. They advocated for the support of both men and women. Howard said,
The growing gap in educational attainment would end up hurting women, who want men to be well educated. He said that the discussion of men’s educational setbacks isn’t about “the wonderful steps” women have achieved.
Both young men and young women need to be given equal opportunities to advance and succeed. Let us not lose sight of this truth.