In the past year, our group has taken a set of important shifts.
Slowing Down. Several of the forms of success we experienced in our first year, specifically rapid growth in membership, many events and projects, and recognition, were in some ways a mixed blessing. While many recognized the need for such a group, others were threatened by what they saw unfolding as a manifestation of what men often do; rush into something with excitement and a big idea, make it happen, and get praise. Groups like the WAC who have strived year after year to gain recognition and support felt threatened and overshadowed. Some faculty wondered why Gustavus needs a group promoting men's leadership when men already saturate workplace and political leadership positions. Along with the recognition and appreciation we received from involved faculty and the Magnusen award, we met misunderstanding, fear, and advice for caution.
Turning Inward. Our group began to be advised by several
staff mentors, including Dierdre Rosenfeld, Martin Lang, Chris Johnson, and Patty
Dawson, to focus instead on our own development, community, and ideas. It is
for this reason that we have been less event/outcomes focused this year. Additionally, men from within the group were
feeling that we were too much about work and projects and not enough about
Over the last year, and especially with the presence of a shared space to call home (the M-Pact office in the Gustie Den), our community has become a truly an inspirational one. It has been a community of many learnings and deep personal progress. "Even though I considered myself and am generally regarded as a highly open, sharing person, I have found myself week after week entering into layers of openness with men and women that I had not experienced. And these conversations and layers of depth have been domino-effect spiraling through our group in unprecedented ways." ~Daniel Jackson
Our group's transformation is epitomized in our name change from the simplistic, "Men's Leadership Team" to the focused, powerful, "M-pact: Mentoring Men for lives of Meaning and Making a difference".
Returning Outward. Fueled by our new
foundation and identity in depth of relationship,
reflection and awareness (as opposed to leadership and involvement), we turned
outward again and brought our new character to the
greater campus community.
Before we can impact this campus, we must be a community, not merely a team. We
must grow in relationship and shared learning. We have become a community of
men (and a woman...) who enjoy each other deeply enough that it becomes fun to
show up and get work done together, who with our depth of community stand to
challenge the unyielding, un-sharing man-fortress-mentality that remains
prevalent on our campus and beyond.
April 20, 2010
I am writing on behalf of M-Pact to support this group’s request for a Gustie Den space. I have worked on several occasions with this group and feel strongly that it has and will continue to contribute in important ways to the Gustavus community. When I first came to know about the group, which was originally formed under the label of "Men’s Leadership Team", I was quite suspicious of their motives. As a feminist and a scholar of masculinity, I am always suspicious of “men’s groups.” To their credit, the group invited me to talk about this very issue, asking me for my critique and for my advice. They have been exceptionally open-minded and guided by a strong core of student leaders as well as staff and faculty mentors. Unlike so many men’s groups, which function primarily to perpetuate the hegemonic dominance of men, these men are striving to fill a productive and important role on campus, providing a kind of programming and fellowship that is available nowhere else. Last week, I took part in a fantastic and well-attended event, a forum examining the problem of male privilege. It is my sense that this organization is deeply committed to the critical inquiry of power and privilege but also to organizing within the community to promote positive activism and change. The group has strong roots and I expect it will continue to grow; a formal space will greatly enhance both their group identity and their presence within the community. I hope you will strongly consider granting their request for a Den space.
Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
Finally, below is a note from Associate Dean of Students Deirdre Rosenfeld addressing our potential to positively impact the entire campus with our Den space. This was also a part of our office space application.
April 23, 2010
M-Pact is an evolving organization that has the rare potential to positively impact every campus organization and department. As a student group their approach to leadership is constructive, collaborative, developmental and truly open to advising. It's hard to imagine an organization that has cultivated more support from faculty and staff than this program. If they were to have office space in the Den they would be even more equipped to reach out to other organizations and be accessible to the campus community.
Associate Dean of Students