On November 6th, KSU Men (KSUM) has been approved by the Student Activities and Budget Advisory Committee (SABAC) of Kennesaw State University. The video above plays a recording of the speech I gave to SABAC. Representation for men and boys has now spread to academia in the Southeast United States. I will be serving as the president until December 2014, and KSUM will outlive my time on campus. I have three awesome people helping me run the organization, and I could not ask for a better lineup. KSUM’s administration is split 50/50 between men and women, and the students who support us are diverse.
I want to thank both the staff and membership of AVFM, NCFM, and AVFMS for all of their gracious support. None of this would have happened if it were not for your confidence in me.
I will now deliver what was promised in the KSUM fundraiser. Here are receipts for the major purchases made for KSUM promotion. If you have been following me on my blog, you have seen these already. Since there was nothing in the budget for hiring designers, the print graphics are of my design.
- GOPRO Chest Mount
- KSUM Banner [reciepts][print graphic]. Originally I was going to get a printed tablecloth, but that cost twice as much. The banner fulfilled the same function.
- KSUM Handouts [receipts] [front][back]
The rest of the money has been dedicated to gasoline for the car and food for upcoming meetings. Since everything was local, I spent more time on foot than in the car. That’s why the gas costs were so low even though a lot of time was spent on this project.
I also promised you all knowledge in exchange for your support. I will now present you a log so that you can learn from my experience. Be warned, this is a lot of information so please bear with me. If you are a MHRA enrolled in college, I will be telling you some things to expect when starting an organization. Note that this article is breadcrumbs in a forest. Your experience will be unique, and there are no guarantees. By observing what I have done, my hope is that you will get some idea of how you can navigate your own circumstances.
What to Expect
- Hard work. You will be running around everywhere, and your patience will be tested every day.
- The law. Read your university’s student handbook and any relevant state, province or national code to learn the ropes. When you read legal code, do NOT skim. You cannot afford to misconstrue anything. Don’t read cover to cover, just check the books before making important decisions. Take any legal questions to your campus’ legal council. If you are a student, you should not be charged if you keep things quick.
- Bullshitters. Forget about people who do not return your calls or live up to their word. They don’t care about you.
- Rivals. Some people will face you with red tape or worse. If you have done nothing wrong, use the law and a recording device to your advantage. Accountability is your sword.
The Story of KSUM
All times are in EST (GMT-5) and are recorded in 24-hour format.
The Gentlemen’s Club
On February 20th 19:00, I attended a men-only meeting called The Gentlemen’s Club. Only three men were present, including myself. I reacted to the meeting positively. Dr. Faust, the counselor facilitating the discussion, asked me to meet him and his colleague Dr. Griggs. A week later I take questions from the AVFM community to bring to the counselors. On March 11th 18:00, I met the counselors to discuss TGC. We talked about TGC policy, and I learned that the counselors wished to regulate member communication. Members had to sign a paper agreeing to not socialize with other members outside of the meetings. TGC was essentially a locked-down group therapy session, and the doctors wanted me to “recruit members” (in other words, find patients). TGC wanted nothing to do with activism. They only wished to “fix broken men,” in the words of Dr. Faust. They declared AVFM and my own activism “militant” and started to ask me invasive questions about my personal life.
I dropped contact with TGC even though TGC seemed to be the best KSU had to offer men.
Getting My Shit Together
I decided to make the change I wanted to see. At first I thought I wanted a safe space for men, but then I realized that wasn’t going to help much in the long run. What I wanted was to squash gynocentrism in any local policy, and I knew there were men and women out there who wanted to help. On May 31st, I interviewed Paul Elam on starting a men’s group and on the MHRM. On July 8th 17:15, I spoke to NCFM Campus Coordinator Chris Thompson for advising. Chris suggested targeting fraternities for signatures, while warning me of the kind of backlash to expect.  I did not get any good results from KSU fraternities or sororities. On August 1st 18:43 I saved an early draft of what would become the KSUM constitution. The KSUM constitution is heavily influenced by Chris Thompson’s NCFM chapter bylaws. By this day, I have collected all needed documentation from KSU to start obtaining signatures from the Kennesaw State University Student Life offices.
For those of you looking to get started, this should tell you to go to your campus student center and start asking about forms to fill out to start an organization. If you don’t know where to go, just ask anybody behind a desk. Chances are good that someone who cannot help you will know someone who can. I got a packet with a student petition and some forms identifying co-founding officers. Most of my signatures came from asking friends, which meant the table events I held in the future were dedicated more to officer recruitment.
By August 13th I got some cheap posters up asking for volunteers to act as officers. Lots of them were torn down because that always fucking happens. Later I wandered around “The Cubes,” a set of cubicles where student organizations work. I took my time until the 26th to learn about campus policies and the law. AVFM forum members were a big help on this front.
I started to get nervous about the lack of student concern over men’s issues. I made an appointment with a faculty member on August 29th 15:52 and learned about setting up a table to promote KSUM. I went back to the AVFM forums on September 2nd 08:45 to bounce ideas off people on how to make good use of a table for a promotional event. A fundraiser for KSU Men’s promotion started on September 16th 9:34 with Paul Elam’s blessing. The $500 goal was reached at 16:40 the same day.
Some Asshole Grabbed Me for No Reason
To give the donors an idea of where things were going on, I went to KSU to film The Commons, a cafeteria on Kennesaw State University. I was grabbed by the shoulder by a staff member who told to stop recording. This person did not work in security, but I complied and asked where I could get permission to record the campus. I went to the University Relations office to get permission to record students for my table events. The lady I spoke to was okay with it, so long as I had permission from the offices nearest where my events were being held.
On September 16th, I stopped by the KSU Social Sciences and Humanities building to ask about recording the second table event. My email was CC’d all over the place and I got several responses from staff on the 17th. They even roped in the campus attorney. I was told that I could not record anyone without every student’s explicit written consent. This turned out to be false. There was no campus policy stating this. I live in Georgia, USA. O.C.G.A. §16-11-62 states the conditions in which I can or cannot record people. Since I was a student on a public university in the middle of a high traffic area, no student had a reasonable expectation to privacy since we were all in public view. I needed no consent. I approached the campus attorney about the situation and told him that a staff member who did not work in security grabbed me to enforce a policy that did not exist. The attorney commended my correct reading of state law and explained that I was told not to record so that the school could avoid frivolous lawsuits filed by oversensitive students that expect privacy in public areas. Such cases were almost always thrown out, but it takes time and money to do that.
KSU had a valid concern, but their concern did not excuse how they handled me. I was told a lie that affected my rights as a student. The attorney and I came to an understanding that I could record the event if I left a warning that the event was being recorded. To the attorney’s credit, he was remarkably understanding and supportive of the group.
Things to note:
- If you are right, do not back down.
- Know the law, and know campus policies.
- If someone who is not in security lays a hand on you without just cause, raise all nine circles of Hell. If your university tries to force you to follow policies that do not exist, you can make a harassment claim and report anyone involved in the harassment.
By September 24th, I had obtained all materials for the table by going to a local print shop to get the banners and the handouts produced. The chest mount was purchased from Wal-Mart (no sense paying for shipping/handling). On September 28th 9:00, the first KSUM table was hosted in front of the Commons. Since I was still alone at this point and did not want anyone messing with the stuff on the table, I sat out there for the full six hours with no lunch or bathroom break. The response was positive, yet underwhelming. The second event was held in the social sciences building, which had more interesting results (more on that in a moment).
The GOPRO I was wearing on my chest was enclosed in a case, so the video footage has muffled audio. The fact that the GOPRO died while the phone was still recording audio made it impossible to piece together a complete video. However, I do have valuable footage of how to set up an awesome table for you all to use as a reference. Check it out, and make sure you can see annotations on YT videos because they provide a lot of good information. You won’t see these annotations on many mobile devices, so watch this video on a laptop or desktop.
Learn from my mistakes:
- Find friends to help you before campaigning. Have someone around to hold a camera or watch your stuff if you need to wander off. While I did have your moral and financial support, I spent most of my time working alone in my community, which really sucks.
- If you use a GOPRO, note that the microphone can’t hear things more than three feet away very well. Closing it in a case on a chest mount does not exactly help matters. You need a condenser microphone like the Sony ECM-DS70P and a skeleton case for the GOPRO if you want good sound quality. Be warned that bootleg microphones are sold on Ebay, and may not actually work (If the price seems too good to be true, it is).
I published available officer positions on KSU Men’s blog on October 4th. Jonathan Taylor graciously helped get the word out. The second KSUM table event was hosted in the KSU Social Sciences and Humanities building on Monday, October 21st. I was alone again, but thankfully not for long. The man who is now my VP approached the table and said “I’m in. What do I do?” His cool wife also came by and signed up as the treasurer. Interestingly, as the treasurer and I were talking, a feminist approached the table and tossed down a folded, hastily-written hate note before storming off without a word. The paper was crumbled, the side was torn and the grammar was, in a word, “special.”
The girl threw justification for KSUM right into my lap, so naturally I got the note laminated.
The constitution was ratified on October 28th, and on November 6th, KSUM was approved as a new entity.
KSUM is the result of almost ten months of research and work, and we are only just getting started. We have fundraisers to hold, food to cook and meetings to host. There are still standing threats to the organization, such as feminist co-option, student protest and other forms of administrative intervention. After all, KSUM is going to try and change policy. We hit a milestone, but shit can still go wrong and we have to be ready for that. When officers leave KSUM, others will be elected to maintain the organization. I cannot prevent gynocentrists and misandrists from taking the helm during future elections, but I will do my best to make it hard for them to steer the ship off-course.
Your support is what got this organization started, and your continued support can only help KSUM grow. A new donation page is available if you want to help us feed members, hire speakers and organize local activist projects. I plan to approach the KSU Security Department to talk about their R.A.D. courses, and approach the gender studies department about their required reading.
Let’s recap. If you are a college student, we need you to start organizations on college campuses to help men. The bottom line is three-fold:
- To love and respect men as human beings.
- To presume a man is innocent until proven guilty.
- To reverse any policy that does not like #1 or #2.
Once you start the process of getting an organization ready, you will gain experience and naturally see the options available to you as you go. My experience generated a lot of content to absorb, so I invite you to leave any questions you have in the comment section below. Your experience will differ, so if you still don’t know what to do, that’s okay. I did not know what to do when I started, either. To be honest, to some degree I still don’t know what to do now. You simply can’t know everything in this game. Accept that the results are uncertain and move forward anyway. When you go out and make something happen, the fear that paralyzes others like you will weaken. Even if you fail, the worst case scenario is that we all learn something. And even then, the failures you experience will most likely not stop you from trying again. Failure and mistakes are just things that show up before success, so don’t let them stop you. Keep losing until you win.
But let me tell you “a thing,” to borrow a phrase from my brainless friend: you need to get over fear. Any worry you may feel about taking on the system is understandable, but that worry is exactly what keeps things the same. No one is expecting you to change the world, but you need to do something. An organization is no small task, but the current war against the gynocentric powers that be is in academia. Plant your foot on campus, read the policies, decide what needs to change and do what you need to do to change it.
Get up, get out, and do what is right. I will root for you.