Talking about Men and Masculinity - Conversation with Caleb Cash

Kaitlin Logan Wimmer, NASPA IV-W Men and Masculinity KC Representative

January 31, 2018

This month we’re highlighting one of the great Men and Masculinities programming work that is going on in the region. I spoke with Caleb Cash, the Assistant Director of Student Engagement at the University of Central Oklahoma. While at UCO, Caleb first began Men’s programming, and later worked with students to develop a Men’s Programming Board.

Tell me about your role with Men's programming at UCO?

The Men's Programming Board evolved from noticing we were missing men’s leadership on our campus. We had a ton of women applying for positions, but really noticed a lack of men’s interest in involvement and leadership. Additionally, we wanted to give men a space on campus to feel safe and empowered to discuss men’s issues, be it physical or mental health, while also having the opportunity to plan events, grow, and learn.

How did your men’s programming initiatives get started?

We started this programming five years ago, and then had the desire to begin working with student leaders. It also started just as programming specifically for men, then morphed into a board that's gender specific programming but open to all. We don’t turn anyone away and invite perspectives from all gender identities.

How are students involved in the men’s programming?

Now that we’ve got our Men’s Programming Board up and running, students plan all aspects of our programming and event, which include passive daytime programs and major campus events. The board is predominately men, but occasionally have women on the board.

What programming do you do?

During the daytime we focus on passive or educational events. In the past we’ve done education on how to put on condoms, how to tie a tie, a program called “Healthy Hunks”, focusing on how to create good healthy meals, and an event teaching participants how to change a tire.

We do two major programs during the year. The first being “Big Balls”, which can best be described as softball meets dodgeball. It’s a game for students, faculty, and staff that raises money and awareness for prostate and testicular cancers. Last year we raised around $2,000.  We also began a “Mr. Central Pageant.” We have several women’s pageants on campus, and I was approached by men who asked why we didn’t have a pageant for men. Now we have Mr. Central! Students have a platform and a resume, they are then interviewed by judges, who ask them about their platforms, media, and other world issues. Examples of past platforms students have used include art education, being “you”, and African American identity. The pageant portion has a talent fitness, and evening wear section.

What has been the reception with your students?

We haven't had any pushback, and everyone seems very supportive. The students realize it's for everyone, and the men want women to work with them. Additionally, we’ve had staff participate in Big Balls and attend the pageant.

Why do you think it's important to have Men's specific programming?

It’s been an opportunity for men to talk about issues they don't normally get to talk about, such as sexual health, condoms, STI’s, or men's cancers. They just were not talking about issues we need them to talk about. Having peers engage each other in these conversations makes it more of an open atmosphere for them to talk about these things.

What are your dreams for your men’s programming initiatives?

I would love for it to be a big enough board that they could educate on campus while collaborating with other offices, such as peer health. I want MPB to have a robust schedule for years and to be able to do more peer education with Greek chapters, clubs, etc.

If you have any questions about men’s programming and would like to get started with your own initiatives, feel free to reach out to Caleb at [email protected]

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