Men Against Violence Program with Julie Eckert, M.S. Ed.

Julie Eckert has worked in the Alcohol and Drug Resource Center at Texas State University for 15 years. Julie has a master’s degree in Health Education from Texas State. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist. As a health educator Eckert coordinates two peer education programs -- The Network and Men Against Violence. She also supervises and teaches the state certified Alcohol Education Course for Minors at Texas State. Eckert is the team leader for the Student Affairs Wellness Team that collaborates to address alcohol and mental health issues at Texas State primarily through environmental strategies including social marketing. She is also adjunct faculty with the Health and Wellness Department at Texas State.

Can you briefly describe the MAV organization and how can men get involved in the fight against gender violence? 

Men Against Violence started at Louisiana State University in 1995 by LSU student athletes who were tired of all the violence. I saw them present at a conference back in 1997 and brought the idea back to Texas State University. We formed a task force focusing on how to structure a Men Against Violence program on our campus. In 1998, two football players officially formed a MAV organization at Texas State along with a board consisting of students from athletics, the counseling center, and student affairs.

Initially, we offered a sexual assault program and a dating violence program. Now we have a variety of programs – Acquaintance Rape, Healthy Relationships, Anger Management, Alcohol and Violence, Sexual Harassment, Boys will be Boys, Reconstructing Masculinity, and Stalking.

We offer these programs to student organizations, athletics, residence halls, and class rooms. We go out to the community as well, to at-risk programs, junior highs, high schools, and other colleges and universities.

How do you advocate the MAV message – both on campus and off? 

You know, women have been trying to advocate violence prevention for years, but if we want this message to be heard then we need to encourage a male-to-male perspective. It is crucial to have men who understand violence focus on changing the attitude of their peers – that is the biggest part of our prevention efforts.

We spread the message of violence prevention in a number of ways: 

  • Mandatory programming for all incoming freshman (this program piggybacks Texas State’s alcohol program) 
  • Poster campaign
  • Brochures
  • Website
  • Email blast
  • Resident Assistants
  • Orientations, health fairs, and student organization events

These combined efforts help promote MAV, but the true impact really comes from the program – students generally get rid of any misconceptions they may have about violence once they see our programs.

Has the MAV program on your campus been successful? If so can you site some examples? 

We are successful in that we’ve been around for 11 years and going strong. We do about 30-40 presentations to approximately 6,000 to 7,000 students each year. Also, our members are role models to their peers when they are at parties or whether they are just hanging out.

There have been about four former Texas State MAV members who have gone into this line of work after they graduated. In fact, three of them have started the National Men Against Violence, Inc. -- I think this is another great success.

We can also measure how we are doing by the number of requests we get to present our programs (i.e. junior highs, high schools, college, and universities). The evaluations we get back at the end of the programs are always very positive.

Can you describe some of the issues that are addressed during a MAV program? 

Typically, we present our programs to large groups. We talk about gender role stereotypes, the role of alcohol in acquaintance rape, the mutual responsibility of both parties to communicate and get sexual consent, and victim blaming. We also address both heterosexual and homosexual relations.

After we present some facts, we break down into small groups where there is at least one male in each group. We give the students a fairly common scenario like “Two people, who know each other from class have a couple of drinks and go back to the man’s room; sex happens, but there really wasn’t consent.” We ask the students to rate the scenario, on a scale from 1 to 5, as to whether they think it was rape and why. Next, we’ll switch the scenario and ask the students “What if a female TA forces a male student to have sex with her for a good grade?” Again, the students will rate the scenario as to whether or not they think it was rape.

Once we learn why students think a certain way, we can address their attitudes and perceptions. However, if we just tell students what they should do, they won’t listen.

What are some challenges to starting a program like MAV? 

The material we present is incredibly sensitive and you have to make sure it’s done in a certain way. The students really need to be guided and trained properly. Some other challenges are:

  • Staffing – someone needs to train the students or at least organize the training and advise them
  • Education – staff needs to have a background in social work, counseling, or health education
  • Resources – there needs to be some funding for material, training, computers, staff, and research
  • Recruitment – there needs to be ongoing recruitment efforts – finding men and getting them involved can be challenging partly because of student time constraints and partly because it’s a controversial subject

If you could create a model program and budget was not an issue, what would you recommend? 

I would suggest several things to make an all-inclusive program:

  • Social norming/social marketing
  • Bystander prevention
  • Two to three health educators
  • Full-time staff (at least one)
  • Assessment tools and surveys on campus to use as MAV data
  • Task force complete with student affairs, administrators, law enforcement, and community leaders
  • Comprehensive education and advocacy training through the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention

Are there any resources that you recommend for more information about this topic? 

Jackson Katz, America's leading anti-sexist male activists (gender violence, publications, and videos). Available at: http://jacksonkatz.com/ 

Men Can Stop Rape, International organization (resources include training, calendar of events). Available at: http://www.mencanstoprape.org/ 

Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention, U.S. Dept. of Education; http://www.higheredcenter.org/ 

National Men Against Violence, Inc. http://www.adrc.txstate.edu 

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