Monarch Men: Mastering Masculinity
Andrew Jatau is a licensed counselor who does most of his “crusading” in Old Dominion University’s counseling services office. Having originally received his masters in counseling from Wright State University, he’s been on campus for two years in July. Andrew said his favorite part of the time he’s spent at ODU is being able to interact with students.
“Having this one on one time with students, and being influential, especially at this part of their lives, is very important,” he said.
There’s no doubt college students are at a critical stage in life, trying to figure out who they are, where they want to proceed, how to do it and what choices must be made to actualize their dreams.
Prior to coming to ODU, Andrew worked in Dayton, Ohio as a therapist in a youth hospitalization center. These students typically range from 5-years-old to 17, but Andrew never got to interact with them in adulthood.
The idea for “Monarch Men” started in the spring of 2013. Andrew, along with assistant vice president of student engagement and enrollment service, Don Stansberry, sat down together to identify ways to increase retention rates and involvement rates on ODU’s campus.
A series of meetings were held to analyze what could be done in order to reach ODU’s male population; it was determined that rather than just hosting a bunch of counseling programs, having one, solid unit that could reach all men on campus was best. Andrew is currently chief advisor and event coordinator of the group.
According to Andrew, “Research shows that men just aren’t as involved as women are.” It is his goal to see male students exited and invested in the campus community.
“They must stay, and feel like they belong,” he clarified.
Though also open to female membership, Monarch Men is dedicated to “promoting healthy masculinity, positive leaderships skills and an overall culture of academic and personal success.”
Ideally, Andrew hopes for the organization to be one that every student has heard of and participated in. Their message is one that many men, most often, don’t hear.
“A lot of times for men it’s not okay to ask for help,” said Andrew. “And so a lot of the time you see men struggling, either academically, mentally or emotionally, and they don’t have any support.”
His aim, therefore, is to provide that support, and connect these men to resources to help them on the path to success.
President of the organization, Taiwo Owens, is a Senior majoring in English with an emphasis in teacher preparation. Taiwo was also originally a counseling client of advisor Andrew.
“He threw this idea at me, and initially I considered it, but I wasn’t too persuaded to join the group. But because of the fact that I wanted to confront my own fears as a male, I knew that being a leader meant that I would have to attack my struggles with communication,” he said.
Not having a consistent and positive male influence in his own life, Owens believes that it is imperative for him be an inspiration and role model for upcoming generations.
The organization has prepared an exciting forecast of events for future semesters which range from hosting discussion groups, retreats to presentations, workshops and inviting guest speakers onto campus.
Taiwo said that the men’s retreat is an overnight, outdoor activity. Participants will engage in teambuilding and leadership activities through the use of low and high rope courses provided by Camp Silver Beach.
The Monarch Men also have plans to host a “welcome-back” cookout and international men’s day for the upcoming fall 2014 semester. The organization is committed to ensuring the future success of every student across campus. Focuses are to improve gender relations, promote gender equality and to promote basic humanitarian values.
By David Bahh