— Be yourself.
— Take care of loved ones, whomever they may be.
— Take care of yourself physically and mentally.
— Be respectful.
— Do the right thing.
— Think AND feel.
These are the pieces of advice Angelo Popper, Stevens ’17, left his chapter brothers and members of Chi Phi when he gave a presentation on masculinity. For weeks he had prepared for this moment — to spark a meaningful discussion and help start a culture change.
“Stereotypes are embedded in our culture,” says Popper. “Whether they are related to masculinity, sexuality or mental health, Americans normalize everything. That is why many of us do not recognize that these stereotypes exist and are problems. Workshops like this bring recognition and awareness of these issues to our peers. We have to stop this normalization, which begins with us.”
It all started last semester when Popper wanted to learn more about mental health and wellness. So, he joined Peer Educators — a group of counseling center volunteers who provide outreach and education to the campus community.
“The group’s goal is to bridge the gap between students and mental health,” says Popper. “It is an opportunity for Stevens students to develop leadership, community outreach and human services skills, while building community services experience.”
The group meets weekly to train on various mental health-related topics. The Peer Educators usually come up with topics to present on or fulfill requests from student organizations. Topics range from “Warning Signs of Depression” to “Sex Positivity” to “Conflict Resolution” to the newly rolled out “Masculinity” presentation, which Popper came up with.
Popper partnered with a fellow Peer Educator who is also a member of Chi Phi. Together, they developed the presentation and prepared a joint discussion with both of their chapters. The presentation centered around defining masculinity, male stereotypes and gender roles, followed by the group’s beliefs of what it means to be a man.
According to Popper, this was the first time that the two chapters had collaborated. Brothers of both chapters engaged in great discussion and everyone in the room left believing that change begins with them.
“The presentation was very thought-provoking, and made us discuss a topic that college men rarely talk about,” said Joe Puciloski, Stevens ’19. “It was mind-opening to discuss what we normally would not notice regarding our masculinity, gender roles and the ‘expectations’ placed upon men and women.”
When asked why and how he came up with the idea for this presentation, Popper reflected on his SigEp experience.
“I had the idea of creating a presentation based upon masculinity,” he says. “I remember attending a SigEp leadership event where we really discussed and questioned what it means to be a man. Discussing masculinity is important and I believe all people should discuss it, especially fraternity men.”