University recreation holds events for ‘Movember’

Movement about more than just funky ’stache, program organizers say



Not shaving for the month of November is used as a tool to promote health awareness

CODY SCHOELER, Evergreen reporter

WSU’s University Recreation is running a month-long program filled with activities and events to promote Movember.

Movember is a charity that was started in 2003 with the goal of growing mustaches to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues. It started its focus on prostate cancer and has since expanded to testicular cancer and mental health.

Jessica Whitt, UREC director of fitness services and instruction, said Movember is about more than just not shaving and raising awareness about prostate cancer.

“The mustaches are still there, they’re fun,” she said. “But really what we’re trying to do is start the conversation about men’s health [in general].”

Whitt said men are reluctant to see a doctor for an annual exam more than once every five years. Testicular cancer is the second-leading killer of young men, she said, so it is important to start the conversation and create awareness early.

WSU started promoting Movember in 2014, Whitt said, and has been doing it every year since.

She said the most important aspect of Movember is creating awareness for men’s health.

“It is a chance to open up the conversation about men’s health and that it doesn’t only affect men,” she said. “Everyone knows someone that is going to be affected by men’s health.”

Whitt also addressed the mental health side to Movember. People need to open up that conversation, she said, because 60 men die every hour from suicide and 75 percent of all suicides are committed by men.

Ramon Sodano, UREC coordinator of fitness services, said organizers are focused on breaking down masculine stereotypes. It took him a while to realize it is OK to have feelings and talk to people about them, he said.

“I come from that generation where it’s ‘boys don’t cry’ and that kind of stuff,” he said. “It’s cool to see that they’re trying to make an initiative in there to be able to encourage those individuals [that] you do need to talk to people if things are going on.”

Whitt said organizers have received feedback in the past saying that they have not been inclusive. She said they are changing that this year by including women, LGBTQ+ community members and any men who don’t identify with the traditional stereotypes of masculinity.

The UREC will be putting on several different events this month, Sodano said. The events include Dad’s Bench Best, primitive fire building and a “masculinity workshop” that will examine ideas of gender and masculinity and how they shape relationships.

There will also be a “Gentlemen’s Ride” on spin bikes followed by fundraising for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, which contributes to the Movember Foundation.

Sodano said the event he is most looking forward to is “Burpees for Balls” happening every Monday and Tuesday at the Student Recreation Center and the Chinook.

“I’m super excited for these Burpees for Balls because I know it is going to be hilarious,” he said. “I’m going to be yelling stuff about balls while people are doing burpees, it’s going to be a fun time.”

Sodano said he is also excited to start encouraging men to open up and help them recognize the ways that they can be more expressive about their emotions.

“If you train with us, we are not just your trainer,” he said. “We are there for you, we’re someone you can talk to.”

Sodano said he is looking forward to telling men about the mental health resources available to them.

“I’m going to be able to illustrate and really talk about the different avenues that WSU and the counseling services have here for these individuals to open up and find out different things about themselves,” he said.