As November comes to a close, USC has not run any activities, awareness campaigns, or funded any projects in honor of Men’s Health Awareness Month.
Since 2003, November has been linked to promoting awareness surrounding men’s health. While it originally shined a light on prostate and testicular cancer, the month has become inclusive of other issues related to men’s wellbeing, such as mental health disparities and suicide rates.
The American Cancer Society has reported that about 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 1 in 41 with testicular cancer. Suicide rates are also over three times higher for men, with white males accounting for nearly 70% of all suicides in 2019, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
In a weekly briefing, Chief Health Officer Dr. Sarah Van Orman commented on what activities and initiatives the university is hosting to shed light on this month’s health-related issue. After admitting that not much was promoted earlier in November, Van Orman assured that they will “be pushing more things out towards the end of this month.” At this time, no events have occurred or come up.
No-shave-November, also known as “Movember,” encourages public awareness and support through one’s physical appearance. For men, this typically involves growing out a mustache for the entire month, while women forego shaving their legs. Any funds usually spent towards such maintenance are encouraged to be donated towards cancer research specific to men.
USC recently posted a fundraiser with the Movember organization, but it has not been publicized. Currently, the fundraiser has just two participants and has gained a total of $226.
According to Andres Mijares, a senior industrial and systems engineering student, growing mustaches out for a month is “a fun thing to do” in the month of November.
However, while Movember is a popularly known term, awareness about men’s health among university students is low, even among men.
“I actually have never heard of Men’s Health Awareness Month until now,” said Cristofer Tzoc, a sophomore public policy major. “I was surprised that a month like that existed.”
Freshman psychology major Jacqueline Gibson admitted she didn’t know much about men’s health awareness month either. “I originally knew of Movember as men not shaving to raise awareness for men’s prostate,” she said in an interview with Annenberg Media.
In the past, clubs and sports organizations, such as USC’s Men’s Rugby team, have participated in men’s health through fundraisers. However, no such activities exist on their website today.
Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Services (RSVP) hosted a workshop on Nov. 12 on the issues of sexual violence and toxic masculinity, which falls in their scope of men’s health. The Latinx Chicanx Center for Advocacy and Student Affairs (La CASA) also hosted a workshop on toxic masculinity on Nov. 17.
However, neither of these workshops expanded on resources, checkups or other important services solely dedicated to men’s health.
Mijares said that the Movember content he sees, unfortunately, comes not from USC, but primarily through videos and social media posts.
“Besides the health resources located on the syllabus, which professors emphasize at the beginning of the semester, I haven’t seen anything directed towards men,” said Tzoc.
This is not the first time the university has failed to acknowledge and spread awareness for a month dedicated to social and health-related issues.
In October, the university administration failed to properly promote awareness about domestic violence. RSVP hosted two workshops on the topic, and sorority Alpha Chi Omega organized a donut sale and carnival fundraiser for the Good Women’s Shelter of Los Angeles.
The university also failed to put together a comprehensive celebration for Native American heritage month, a movement spearheaded by the Native American Student Assembly (NASA).
Van Orman said that the silence from USC during the first half of the month was due to conversations surrounding sexual assault, referencing sexual assault allegations made against Sigma Nu.
“I think the other important dialogue we’re having is the involvement of men and the conversations about sexual assault,” said Van Orman.
This new emphasis on the meaning of Movember expanded the month’s reach by including the vast array of men’s health-related topics, as well as how they impact the health and wellbeing of others.
“I think the recent allegations against Sigma Nu have turned the focus away from Movember and more towards efforts to hold men accountable for their actions”, Gibson said.
Ultimately, the Movember movement is attempting to redefine what it means to be a man by combating toxic masculinity, and the negative behaviors often associated with it. For Mijares, being a man is to express emotions and support for one another while discouraging the influences “machismo” culture has today. “We need to be there for each other as men and check in on each other,” he said.
For more information regarding Movember, check out the movement’s website here.