When Richmond College dean Joe Boehman interviewed for his job at the University of Richmond three years ago, he kept coming back to one question: What is the university's vision of a Richmond College man?
To help answer that question, the Office of the Chaplaincy is sponsoring the One Book, One Campus program, which aims to encourage a discussion about gender and masculinity.
This year, the program is using Michael Kimmel's "Guyland" as a springboard for discussion. The book focuses on the idea of the "Just Man" - a man whom Kimmel describes as one capable of acting ethically and doing the right thing.
As part of the program, the campus community can nominate Just Men at the Office of the Chaplaincy's Web site.
The One Book, One Campus initiative, now in its fifth year, was created to prompt students, faculty and staff to talk about issues affecting the campus, said Camisha Jones, director of arts and education at the Chaplaincy.
Previous topics that One Book, One Campus has discussed include race, gender and sexual orientation, she said.
The book was nominated by Thad Williamson, a Jepson School of Leadership Studies professor, she said. The book focuses on many issues, some of which strongly relate to the campus discussion about the release of sexist Kappa Sigma emails.
"We want everything we are talking about to be relevant to the campus," Jones said. "[Thad's suggestion] just seemed very timely, [with] the Kappa Sigma incident that we are trying to still grapple with; it just fit very nicely."
Boehman was the first person to start nominating people for the Just Men recognition, Jones said. So far, 16 men have been nominated since the process began about two weeks ago. The men will be recognized publicly in the near future, she said.
"We have a lot of very good men on this campus," Boehman said. "Some of the ways that young men are socialized make it very easy for incidents to happen and be condoned through silence.
"One of the things that we are trying to do with this book and with the conversations is say, 'You know what, if you do not think something is right, make a statement about that.'"
Boehman's vision of the Richmond Man has many of the same characteristics of a Just Man, he said. The university members are looking for people who have strong characters, stand up for what is right and help others, he said.
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During the past few years, Boehman and his staff have tried to promote a clear message that explains what the Richmond Man actually is: a positive image of masculinity.
"We are not saying that it is a specific archetype," he said. "There is a wide spectrum of characteristics that make a good man, a Just Man. The idea is that whether you are into sports, debate, music or whatever it is, you are still displaying the same qualities of being a man of character, honor and integrity."
Officials from both Richmond and Westhampton College hope to show that men's development issues are just as important as women's development issues.
"I think on the broad campus and society in general, women's gender development has been in the mainstream for a long time," Boehman said. "Men's development is a relatively new concept, so for us, it is getting it there and saying this is every bit as important."
Jones' and Boehman's goals seem to be the same: broadening the conversation about this issue.
"[Men] should step up when they see something that is out of the character of a Just Man, a Richmond Man," Boehman said.
Contact reporter Stephen Utz at firstname.lastname@example.org
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