Male chivalry makes a comeback
"Often things are better defined as what they are not, rather than as what they are" was Edwin Torres's '12 starting point for trying to define what his new club is all about. Edwin is the president and founder of one of Colby's and the Pugh Center's newest clubs, the Gentlemen of Quality (GQ). This definition certainly is a work in progress, and although the members of GQ don't know exactly what they want their club to be, they do know that it is not exclusive, it is not just a social club and it certainly is not a place where ungentlemanly behavior is welcome or tolerated.
The original idea for the club came last spring, after Dean Joseph Atkins visited Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. and discovered a student group called the Men of Color Alliance (M.O.C.A.). Atkins says, "I thought it was such a neat idea, because it was such a wide variety of people with different backgrounds having a dinner conversation together" about any issues they felt needed to be discussed.
Atkins brought the idea back to Colby and bounced it off of Edwin Torres, who went to an all- boys high school and missed the "camaraderie, brotherhood and support" that he had with his friends and classmates in high school. Since then, Torres has taken the reign and Atkins describes his role as faculty adviser as such: "I am an observer and an admirer of the sort of courage that these guys have to do what a lot of men might think is kind of corny....I'm a fan and a supporter right now and they just come to me with questions and for advice."
After many revisions of the club's constitution, it was approved to join the Pugh Center. The club was originally the Gentlemen of Color, until one day Torres and Atkins were in Pulver showing their new constitution off to a friend who responded, as Atkins put it, "too bad I can't join because I'm a white student." The word "color" was not the important part of the name, but rather the word "gentleman," and the founders wanted to make sure the name didn't discourage any potential participants.
The term "gentleman" and some of the club's plans are still off-putting to certain people around campus. At the club's first ever public meeting last Thursday night, the club founders welcomed all new and potential members. Representatives from the Colby Women's Group and the Colby Bridge were also in attendance. At the meeting, the members of GQ went through their list of potential events this year, a list that focuses on both social issues like men against rape and women's history month, as well as social events like a Super Bowl party.
The representatives from the Women's Group used the get-together as a forum to bring up several issues they have with GQ. In short, they are unhappy with the male-driven focus of the group and fear that events centered around sports, like a Super Bowl party, will perpetuate male stereotypes and alienate women. These concerns opened a floodgate of gender issues and a debate over whether or not it is socially responsible to have a "guys" club. The club members of GQ thanked the girls profusely for their criticism and even invited them back for a private discussion the next day.
Torres and his club are still trying to define what their club is and what they want it to become. This mission is bound to be an uphill struggle, as Atkins believes the gentleman is a dying breed. Atkins says, "it seems like it's out of vogue [to be a gentleman], like that's something that nobody would aspire to be. You want to be a player, you want to be all these other things. No--you can be a gentleman and you can be all the things that you need to be."