WU Interfraternity Council raises awareness for men’s health issues

Rachel Katzin | Contributing Reporter

Fraternity members across campus will be ditching their shaving tools for the Washington University Interfraternity Council’s (IFC) Movember awareness month, which IFC hopes will help unify the fraternity and sorority community behind a philanthropic cause.

The Movember Foundation sponsors research and treatment for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, physical inactivity and poor mental health. Each November, the Movember Foundation encourages men of all ages to grow facial hair, specifically mustaches, to raise awareness for and spark a discussion about these issues.

This is the first time WU IFC has sponsored a philanthropy event, and organizing one this year was a priority for IFC officers, senior Julian Clarke, WU IFC president, said.

“That was one of the handful of things early on when we started as a council that we wanted to change. We wanted to get the community more involved as a whole and do things that rallied around one common cause that everyone could get behind,” Clarke said.

The IFC will host several awareness events throughout November. Although IFC will not be charging entrance fees for the events, it hopes that individual participants will take the initiative to fundraise.

A key component of the Movember effort is the Global Action Plan, which aims to connect physicians and researchers from across the globe to facilitate increased communication and collaboration regarding prostate and testicular cancer. In order to fund these connections and research, Movember serves as an awareness-raising initiative to garner widespread interest in men’s health issues and research.

Clarke said that mustaches may serve as a conversation starter that can lead to a discussion of men’s health issues.

Sophomore Sean Chokshi of Beta Theta Pi is participating in Movember for the first time this year.

“The reason I did No Shave November—and why I’m wanting to do Movember—was to increase awareness for mental and cancer-related health, and I guess just prevention in general…There’s a lot of research going on in cancer and trying to find the cure, which is great, but we still need to have more awareness,” Chokshi said.

There are diverse reasons amongst participants for taking part in Movember. Many participate due to peer pressure or because it is considered a popular thing to do, junior and Sigma Alpha Epsilon member Austin Settle said.

“I definitely did it in the past because it was trendy, but now I am especially promoting it because it actually is a good cause,” Settle said.

Clarke said that Movember is an important initiative, because men’s health issues are rarely discussed.

“Being the governing body for men’s Greek life on campus, we [WU IFC] had a responsibility to kind of fill that hole and offer something that would benefit men’s health, and I think that’s often something that isn’t talked about, because there’s a lack of information for people and resources for people to get to,” Clarke said.

Events planned include a Mustache-Off competition, a Mr. Movember pageant and a speaker series.

Clarke also said he hoped to find ways for women in sororities to get involved in the initiative.

“I think there are opportunities for girls to get excited about this, not necessarily growing mustaches but maybe writing mustache-growing permission slips to their guy friends, or shaving guys’ faces at the end of the month for donations,” Clarke said.

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