MasculinUT poster campaign shares student experiences with self-imagery

London Gibson

MasculinUT, a project by Voices Against Violence dedicated to promoting healthy ideals of masculinity on campus, launched its first-ever poster campaign Thursday.

For two years, the people behind MasculinUT have worked with students and faculty to discuss what it means to be masculine in hopes of spreading acceptance and open-mindedness on campus. In order to engage the rest of campus, the program will host a slew of open talks dedicated to the topics touched on by the posters in their new campaign.

Lauren White, MasculinUT member and health and education coordinator for Voices Against Violence, said the poster campaign is meant to speak to all UT students, not just the men.

“The goal of this campaign is to expand notions, understandings (and) acceptance of diverse expression of masculinity,” White said. “That doesn’t just mean for people that are men or male-identified. We’re talking about a range of people with different identities.”

The posters will be hung all over campus, including in classroom buildings and residence halls in the hope of initiating conversations and spreading the group’s message, White said. Each poster touches on a different topic that will serve as the subject of a discussion hosted by MasculinUT later in the year.

The posters feature different students, each with a quote on what masculinity means to them.

Government and economics junior Austin Smith is the subject of one of the posters and a member of MasculinUT. Smith said he saw the poster campaign as an opportunity to share his perspective and inspire people to feel more comfortable being who they are.

“Sometimes we forget that masculinity isn’t in a vacuum; it’s interacting with all these other identities that we have,” Smith said. “How does me being a guy interact with the fact that I like men? For different people, it’s different things.”

MasculinUT falls under the auspices of the Counseling and Mental Health Center program Voices Against Violence, although it also partners with several other departments on campus, such as the Gender and Sexuality Center.

Derek Bell, a member of MasculinUT and student conduct specialist in the Office of the Dean of Students, said he hopes the posters create a healthy environment on campus. Bell was one of the individuals spearheading the poster campaign. “What we’re trying to do is create a healthy environment for our campus,” Bell said. “We wanted to create a safe community … for our Longhorns.”