When Georgia State senior Kenon McCollins walked into Assistant Dean of Students Jaray Mazique’s office, he had the intent to combat gender-based violence starting with an initiative. Mazique and McCollins created the Men in Violence Prevention Initiative as a collaborative effort to encourage students of all genders to discuss everyday issues that the male college student tackles.
In its inaugural year, MVP collaborated with students and professors who were interested in the concept of the layers of masculinity. McCollins, a journalism major, works as the primary MVP ambassador. In the heat of the #MeToo movement and the general climate of rape culture, he decided it was time to start an action at Georgia State to bring up violence in conversations.
Just recently, disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was found guilty for rape in the third degree and a criminal sexual act in the first degree. The verdict has made significant strides toward justice for sexual assault victims, but the similar issues among regular college-aged women remain standing.
On average, one in five college women is raped or sexually assaulted. McCollins believes in the power of conversation and bringing these issues up front will help combat the culture.
“[Rape culture] is hard to ignore and so in your face,” McCollins said. “I just figured we should do something about this.”
McCollins and Mazique started the program and developed ideas for conversations at the beginning of the fall semester. The two decided on topics based on the awareness of social media and its most common issues brought up by college-age users.
Social media and women’s studies classes helped McCollins realize the importance of discussing the topics that are usually steered away from when it comes to the men in college.
The student-led initiative hosts multiple discussions and workshops per semester on the following topics: Controlling Your Anger, Consent, Pop’s Impact (in partnership with Black Men’s Dialogue), and Relationships.
During the “Controlling Your Anger” workshop, for example, students were able to identify causes of anger and how to communicate effectively when angry. The workshops also included relationship topics, because anger can sometimes lead to violence.
The CDC reported in 2015 that one in four women and one in seven men experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
“We already had a consent circle that we do, and I asked friends that I already knew who would be interested in doing a consent discussion,” McCollins said.
McCollins’ friends were eager to join the conversation. He received over 30 responses for attendance at the first session.
McCollins and Mazique worked to engage professors and students into joining the inaugural meeting. A group of 10 professors and students attended the first meeting. The discussion made such an impact on the members that the attendance increased as the semester progressed.
Each session improved with its discourse as well. Using interesting starting topics, students and professors are given room to expand the conversation and share meaningful stories and experiences.
“All of the discussions have been amazing,” McCollins said. “I feel like it gets better and better, and we get more momentum.”
McCollins and Mazique know the topics are always something that needs to be discussed and are relevant to what is happening in the social climate.
“The last discussion, which was on relationships, was powerful,” McCollins said.
Although the initiative is titled “Men in Violence Prevention,” members of all genders are allowed to participate. The meetings are always an opportunity for students to use their voices and talk about the issues they have always wanted to discuss. McCollins and Mazique want the conversation to be inclusive.
MVP collaborates with other campuses with similar programs and also worked with the International Human Trafficking Institute to train students and address the concerns of human trafficking. McCollins, Mazique, and MVP plan on hosting events with the institute and have members trained in human trafficking prevention to incorporate the skills into future meetings.
“MVP consistently tables around campus, utilizes the campus Visix screens and visits other campuses to spread the word continuously.” Mazique said.
For Mazique, the goal of the initiative is to shape local, national and global leaders and promote collaboration with different campus communities.
McCollins would like to see the difference in campus culture as this semester progresses and hopes the legacy continues once he graduates.
“I am trying to make a difference and make Georgia State aware through MVP and just try to grow it, so it becomes a staple here and at other campuses,” McCollins said.
This semester, McCollins, Mazique and the initiative will host two more discussions: “Insecurities and Self-Worth” on March 12 and “Is Fear a Bad Thing?” on April 16. All talks are held at noon on the third floor Student Center East.
For students who want to join the initiative and participate in the next discussion, email email@example.com.