Although a few universities across Canada have banned men’s issues groups, Western’s University Students’ Council would hypothetically allow such groups — as long as they abide by Western’s club rules.
In early November, Ryerson University’s Students’ Union banned a request to form a group called the Men’s Issues Awareness Society. In an article in Maclean’s, columnist Martin Patriquin defended men’s groups and denounced universities' student governments who are censoring them.
“Those groups who actually talk about depression, suicide and homelessness — which, along with shorter lifespans, disproportionately affect males — will do so with the knowledge that their concerns are no more and no less important than any other group’s,” Patriquin said.
According to Taryn Scripnick, USC vice-president student events, Western would not necessarily ban these groups.
“If you want to start a men’s club on our campus for example — completely cool,” Scripnick said. “The only way it would maybe be shot down in any capacity is if you’re breaking a couple of rules.”
Scripnick explained all clubs on campus must adhere to the code of conduct, which prohibits sexism, racism and hate speech. All clubs on campus must allow any student to join and cannot be exclusive. Individuals can apply to have a club formed in January and April, and it can be formed on the condition that it follows the code of conduct and if there is no similar group already in existence.
Jessica Cameron, adjunct professor in women’s studies and feminist research, is not very supportive of men’s issues clubs.
“My concern of course with men-only groups is that historically so many groups have been men-only groups and they’ve been about the maintenance of patriarchal social relations,” Cameron said.
Cameron would like men’s groups more if they work with women’s groups to further equality.
“I don’t necessarily have an inherent problem with men's groups ... if those men’s groups have a feminist or gender equality agenda,” Cameron said.
Scripnick said all clubs are dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and that is how a men's issues group at Western would be formed. Scripnick said there is no difference between a women’s group and a men’s group as long as they both adhere to all the rules.
“A lot of the time, if the information comes to us we will sit down with the club personally to make sure we understand where they’re coming from,” Scripnick said. “We’re always open to have a dialogue with the students.”
However, Cameron does not see a need for a men’s group, unless it had a goal of something, such as reducing men’s violence against women.
“If our aim is gender equality, we don’t have to worry about advocating specifically for men,” Cameron said.