Aurora will hire men’s coordinator

Haley Hansen

The University of Minnesota is adding a full-time position in attempt to further engage men in conversations about sexual assault on campus. The Aurora Center recently received funding to create a menâÄôs engagement coordinator position. The coordinator, whoâÄôs set to start this summer, will be responsible for creating and implementing programming on topics like masculinity and the importance of bystander intervention. Aurora Center director Katie Eichele said discussing gender equity issues and sexual assault prevention with men is necessary to change the campus climate and comes amid a new trend in addressing sexual assault. She said nationwide, advocates are moving away from using risk-reduction strategies and instead narrowing in on societal norms and gender identities. âÄúWe know that building empathy in individuals of all genders actually helps provide wellness for the individual and for the community,âÄù Eichele said. Along with engaging students in conversations regarding sexual assault, she said the new coordinator will be responsible for talking with community members about intervening when theyâÄôre aware of an incident and fostering healthy relationships. The push to have men join the conversation has become a national trend. In fall 2014, President Barack ObamaâÄôs administration launched a campaign called âÄúItâÄôs On UsâÄù that focuses on including all people in conversations on sexual assault prevention. One of the Minnesota Student AssociationâÄôs largest goals this year is to promote the same message. The group has been working with both the Aurora Center and menâÄôs organizations on campus, like the Interfraternity Council, in an attempt to raise awareness. MSA Communication Director Drew Coveyou said the federal campaign has impacted the UniversityâÄôs work on the issue. He also said the new position will be helpful in âÄúsolidifyingâÄù the relationships that are already in place between groups like the Aurora Center, MSA and greek life. MSA President Joelle Stangler said the new position will ensure sexual assault conversations continue to include men. Stangler said itâÄôs vital for both genders to talk about issues like gender roles and sexual assault, and the new position will allow someone to engage directly with men on campus. She said some people might not feel comfortable talking about the issues, and itâÄôs important for the new hire to be relatable. âÄúI think that when you have someone whoâÄôs specifically focused on male engagement, that problem can be overcome a little more readily,âÄù she said. The Aurora Center originally requested funding for the position in its latest student services fees request. The committee didnâÄôt fulfill the request in its final fees recommendations, and now, the Office for Student Affairs will fund the position. The hiree will be contracted for a minimum of two years, and once that period ends, school officials will assess the position. ItâÄôs not yet certain whether the new coordinator will be male or female. Currently, the vast majority of people that either work for or volunteer with the Aurora Center identify as female, Eichele said. Will Dammann, an MSA member and campus safety coordinator for the IFC, said having someone focus entirely on the issue will complement the work thatâÄôs already being done by community members. âÄúIâÄôm really optimistic about where weâÄôre going and where weâÄôll get to be,âÄù he said.