Real men wear pink. Real men have emotions. Real men respect the vagina. Keegan Burke, a sophomore social work major, and Aaron Maracle, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, both facilitated and lead a V-Men Monologues discussion. 11 men participated in the recorded discussion. According to Burke and Maracle, similar interviews were conducted over a decade ago with women and resulted in The Vagina Monologues. Jane Fischer, director of Sub-Board, Inc. Health Education, explained the true purpose of V-Men. "It is an idea-gathering session where [we gather] feedback from men, " Fischer said. "The objective was to gather male experiences, thoughts on the issue, and spawn ideas as to how they can contribute to supporting survivors and ending violence internationally. Fischer was excited for the opportunity of the V-Men Monologues, a spinoff of The Vagina Monologues. "It is a really empowering process," Fischer said. "It has grown over the past decade to over 130 countries." According to Fischer, The Vagina Monologues began as a collection of interviews from women all over the world discussing topics such as sexual expression, repression and abuse. The V-Men Monologues was a "men only" event that discussed such topics as "What it means to love/respect a woman" and "The difference between compassion and corruption." The men were asked to list the admirable characteristics of a man, a woman, and a person he admired. Many times, they chose characteristics similarly associated with a woman. Such characteristics include being compassionate, caring and loving. In many cultures, males are taught to substitute aggressive behavior for emotions, according to V-Men presenters. This concept varies amongst cultures, but is more accepted in certain countries. "In the Congo, for example, male soldiers brutalize and rape women on a regular occasion," Maracle said. An important point covered in the presentation was that males who experience violence in their homes are ten times more likely to abuse their spouse. According to the V-Men presenters, a man who has experienced violence in his home may approach an abusive situation differently. He either knows it is wrong yet continues to do it or stands up against it because he does not want it to happen to other people. Burke and Maracle stressed that others can make a difference in so many more ways. The men that joined the V-Men discussion, for example, may give others the courage to speak out. The idea of V-Men is that anyone has the power to play a part in discontinuing the violence, and men have a significant amount of that power. "Men are a lot of the perpetrators, so they have to be part of the solution," Maracle said. "It is a very small proportion of men perpetrating that violence; [they are] giving men a bad name against women. [It is the] same crimes over and over." From attending a Vagina Monologues production at UB this upcoming weekend to hosting a V-party to purchasing a chocolate vagina, any contribution makes a difference. The funds will go to women in the Congo to help fight the violence and to further educate and promote discussion around campus. For further information, log onto www.vday.org/home.
Katie Ingraham wants to save the planet by planting a garden. Ingraham, the complex director of Creekside Village, has submitted a proposal to the Pepsi Refresh Project to create a community garden in the complex. She hopes to use the garden to educate students about environmental issues and self-sustainability. The Pepsi Refresh Project rewards innovative thinkers who want to make a difference in the world. Pepsi will reward $50,000 to the 10 project ideas with the most votes. Ingraham's proposal includes the creation of two sections within the garden — one for the residents of Creekside and another for partnered groups such as UB Green, UB Environmental Task Force and Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo. Students will be given their own plots of land that they will be responsible for weeding and watering. Educational programming and composting will also be available in the garden. Ingraham is confident that her proposal will help further UB's green initiative and inspire students to lead greener lifestyles. "Providing a community garden will open a door for our students to grow their own vegetables as well as learn valuable lessons on sustainability and green gardening that they will be able to take from here and incorporate in their lives wherever they go," Ingraham said. According to Ingraham, Creekside Village was one of the first complexes in the SUNY system to include Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified buildings. From the light bulbs to the tabletops to the recycled carpet and the refurbished furniture, everything inside and outside of the building is green. "A lot of people don't know about [the complex] because of its hidden location," Ingraham said. "Creekside is still a relatively new community, and this project could help it [to become] better known." Ingraham has noticed a trend in university gardens across the country. Many campuses are beginning to recognize how beneficial gardens are to the supplementation of food service programs. "If [campuses] have the space to do it, they should use it," Ingraham said. "It's cost-effective to grow your own [food]." When Mike Yates, the assistant complex director, was approached with the idea, he jumped on board immediately and helped generate excitement because he knew it would greatly add to an already eco-conscious campus. "Residents have approached us and are showing interest in this," Yates said. "What we're doing is extremely unique." The complex directors would be extremely grateful if the garden proposal won in the Pepsi Refresh Project contest, but they are going to continue developing the idea regardless of whether or not Pepsi awards funding. "We decided to give [the contest] a shot, but if it doesn't work out, we're still going to put in a continued effort," Yates said. Ingraham sees the potential in UB to expand its green initiative and to become an even bigger leader in the movement. "There's a lot of good that's happening now with what UB Green is doing in terms of creating a greener campus, and I hope our garden [can] be another small step in furthering that initiative," Ingraham said. The winners of the Pepsi Refresh grant are determined by votes received at www.pepsirefresh.com. The voting ends March 31. E-mail: email@example.com