Fresh-Men Walk the Talk

by Steve Charles

May 5, 2015

Freshmen in Professor Elizabeth Morton’s Enduring Questions class spent the week before finals discussing what it means to be a man.

Then they lived that out in service at Bethel African American Episcopal Church.

“We’ve been studying masculinity,” said Nolan Morse ’18 as he painted the foundation of the historic church. “To be a man you need to help other people.”

“In class we talked about empathy, and humbling yourself to do what the world needs.”

“It’s part of what makes us human,” said Logan Kleiman ’18 as he re-stained the access ramp to the church. Bethel AME is on the National Register of Historic Places and was an important stop on the Underground Railroad. The repairs and maintenance are part of a partnership between Bethel and First Christian Church in Crawfordsville. Wabash freshmen also worked at the church last fall during Community Service Day. Bethel AME Pastor and Professor Williams visited the class the previous week to talk about the church's history and why the current partnership between these two Crawfordsville churches benefits both.

Later in the week before finals, freshmen joined other students and faculty and staff in the Chapel for a conversation with Michael Kimmel, author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men. Among the world’s leading researchers and writers on men and masculinity, Kimmel is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, where he directs the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities.

“I want to talk about what I perceive as the possibilities for a place like Wabash in the midst of Guyland,” Kimmel said near the end of his talk. He said Wabash could be not only a college for men, but also “a college about men.”

“Can Wabash be the kind of place that inoculates you against the worst of Guyland, and nurtures the best? There is a certain earnestness on this campus—people are serious about talking about this. I believe you are capable of having that conversation.”

The Wabash Academic Bulletin describes Enduring Questions as a course required of all freshmen to "prepare the student to consider carefully who he is and how he relates to others, both during and after his time at Wabash." The course is designed to "engage the student with important questions and to build community."

In the case of Professor Morton's students, that community includes Bethel AME. Because, as Logan Kleiman said, "It's part of what makes us human."

 


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