KSUM Heats Up Struggle Against Gynocentrism

Dr. Bob Mattox is one of the Assistant Deans of Kennesaw State University, and an authority over the KSU Women’s Resource and Interpersonal Violence Prevention Center (WRC). I sat down with Dr. Mattox, Mrs. Wilson (the director of the WRC) and Dr. Gunn (The director of counseling) to discuss renaming the WRC. A record of the meeting is available for review, with KSUM (prospective) advisor names bleeped out for reasons related to preserving organizational stability. (EDIT: The meeting recording link is broken. Will re-upload when the KSUM YouTube channel is redeveloped).

Given my previous discussions with the Non-Normative Anti-Assimilationist Students of KSU and Dean of Student Success Dr. Sansiviro, my initial impression was that the WRC was simply an IPV counseling center with an arbitrary gynocentric sign slapped on the front. That impression was close, but not quite right. Turns out that the WRC is a neutral IPV center with aggregate services for women that distort the brand.

For those of you unaware of the story leading up to this meeting, I met Mrs. Wilson briefly when attending KSU’s Love Your Body week. In that chance discussion, I learned that the WRC had services available for men as well. Obviously, one of KSUM’s activist missions was set to changing the name of the WRC to reflect services rendered. As I state in the video above summarizing the meeting, the WRC combines two functions that can be found in the first two bullets of the WRC mission statement:

  • Advocacy and support for members of the KSU community who are survivors of sexual assault and other forms of interpersonal violence.
  • Training and education on a variety of topics that address women’s and gender issues.

The branding is in a catch-22. If the name stays how it is, campus men will be unaware of the support available to them according to the first bullet point. If the name changes to simply “Interpersonal Violence Prevention Center,” then women on campus would be unaware of the female-specific programs in the center. Mrs. Wilson mentioned these services included helping women transition to a career with a child at home, or things of that nature.

Dr. Mattox responded to my concerns about campus engagement with preliminary talk of reorganization by late 2015. New buildings are under construction all over campus since KSU has acquired tons of capital from its ongoing Southern Polytech State University (SPSU) acquisition. The merge is a game changer across the entire state of Georgia. SPSU is predominantly male university with strong engineering programs, but a small student population of about 6,000. In Fall 2011 (when SPSU did the last release of its fact book), 4590 of 5784 students were male (79%).  KSU is currently a predominantly female campus (~60%) with 24,604 students by Fall 2012.

The new KSU student body, assuming these numbers remain roughly the same by next year, is estimated to be 29,194 with a 50.7% male population. The estimation will simply have to be loose given the lack of up-to-date information from SPSU, but we can conclude that the gender population gap on campus is closing.

KSU’s adaption to the 50/50 split, according to Mattox, is to isolate the IPV Center from the women’s resource division. This would leave the IPV center as the gender neutral entity it was supposed to be in the first place, and put the WRC in its own location. Title IX was the next topic off my tongue. While I am personally unconvinced that a gender-centric center would accomplish anything other university services could not, I wanted to make sure that a men’s center had a presence if a women’s center was available.

Mattox told me that a men’s center is in KSU’s future.

But given that the IPV center has gynocentric aggregated functionality with no equivalent male aggregate, counsel will be contacted once more to discuss KSU’s current Title IX standing. Mattox defended the name as being useful for traditional reasons, and since every other campus in the University System of Georgia is doing the same thing. Erin Pizzey was kind enough to talk to me on the phone before my meeting. Considering that she was the person who started the tradition, her “LOL wut” was remarkably useful in blowing Maddox’s appeal to popularity and tradition out of the water.

But it turns out these IPV administrators never heard of Pizzey.

I have suggested that KSUM act as a future volunteer pool for the reorganization effort, because KSUM is meant to be a place for action, not commentary. In exchange, the administration will offer assistance in seeking tenured academic advisors who are not afraid of political ramifications. The search will extend to SPSU, where the faculty is certain to have more experience with men.

The meeting with Mattox, Gunn and Wilson has opened many incredible opportunities for KSUM to make KSU a more equitable community.

But as always, KSUM remains an ongoing story. Every accomplishment contributes to a lasting presence on campus, and therefore a proven model for a grassroots activist organization.

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