By Creed Caldwell, Guest Commentary -- email@example.com
"Guess what? We're walking on water." I couldn't resist the admittedly corny joke. Deep cracking noises echoed through the ice as we strolled across the lake. The midnight Minnesota air nipped at our noses. Josh, Thomas and I traded grins as the ice settled beneath us.
We were in Minnesota to represent UP at a conference on best practices for involving the college male. The purpose of the conference was to discuss and analyze the severe drop in male participation in extracurricular activities throughout the country. We attended to make a presentation on our growing UP men's group, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (also known as LXG). After the conference had concluded for the day, we seized the opportunity to explore the campus of St. John's University.
Granted, strolling across ice several feet thick was not particularly hazardous. Still, the experience provided a thrill that spoke to the issue we had been discussing all day: the problem of involving men in activities beyond the games Dungeons & Dragons or Halo. The men I know are starved for excitement and activity. That hunger can be appeased by a multitude of sources, as simple as a walk in the dark or complex as defending the galaxy from the Protoss and Zerg.
Perhaps men are thirsting for more excitement; more targeted and more engaging activities. LXG has undergone great expansion since its inception four years ago, making it an exciting time to be a man on our campus. For example, we are aiming to get men involved in service trips tailored to our groups, building community, and encouraging a safe but engaging environment of storytelling that leads to deeper reflection and discussion about the truths that define our lives.
Service is an equally viable option for action. Over the past few years, we have encouraged gentlemen to get involved with LXG local service events at the Oregon Food Bank, Volunteers of America and the Downtown Chapel. We also played a role in planning this year's Hunger Awareness Week by planning a campaign of writing letters to Congress for foreign aid policy reform. Our service experiences have been full of fellowship and the joy of sharing our gifts with the Portland community and the world.
One of the striking aspects of the conference at St. John's was that just because the men gathered had serious issues on their minds, they did not become or behave any less like college-aged men. Jokes were traded, ironies were enjoyed and friends were made. This, perhaps, is one of the aspects of a male personality that fuels the need for action: even in the face of serious tasks, we approach life with a uniquely male sense of humor that leaves nothing untouched.
LXG is reaching out in an effort to share that sense of humor with the entire UP campus through an event called Manquisition: on March 31 at 7:00 p.m. in the Villa Lounge, we will be grilling three prominent male role models from the university about their own masculinity, making them defend qualities about themselves that defy the stereotypes of the modern man. In the style of Stephen Colbert and Monty Python, we will leave no stereotype unturned. All are welcome and encouraged to enjoy our humorous examination of the modern man.
Creede Caldwell is a senior Mechanical Engineering major. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen's Manquisition:
March 31 at 7:00 p.m. in the Villa Maria Lounge