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5 Questions With DU’s New Associate Director of Prevention and Masculinities Engagement

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Emma Atkinson

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A group of young men walk and skateboard on DU's campus on a nice day.

Justin Stoeckle came to the University of Denver last October as the first associate director of prevention and masculinities engagement, which falls under the Health Promotion team within the Health and Counseling Center (HCC). The University of Denver Magazine caught up with him to find out more about his role.

Can you describe your role at DU?

I support our office's efforts in raising awareness and educating students about interpersonal violence and prevention. I also create programs and other opportunities for students to engage in the work of promoting healthy masculinities by providing space for education, reflection, community and, in turn, cultivating the next generation of inclusive leaders.

What are some examples of the programming that you offer for students?

Since this position is so new, a lot programming and events are still in the brainstorm stage. There are two events that have taken off this quarter: the DU Masculinities Project and CAMP Talks. The DU Masculinities Project is a six-week workshop series that covers topics such as mental health, inclusion and equity, healthy relationships, and leadership all through the lens of healthy masculinity. The acronym CAMP stands for the Coalition for Authentic Masculinities Promotion. CAMP Talks is an opportunity for all students to discuss various topics that impact our understanding of masculinity such as how masculinity is portrayed in media, on social media, body image and more. In the future I hope to do storytelling events, retreats and more. 

Headshot of Justin Stoeckle.
Justin Stoeckle

What role does higher education (or DU, more specifically) play in redefining masculinity?

I think that higher education plays a critical role in providing spaces where students can develop into their most authentic selves. From such a young age, boys are taught that there is one correct way to be masculine. They are taught that in order to become a “real man” that they have to be tough, that they can't show emotion and that they need to be confined to the gender role that society has assigned to them.

Boxing people into such rigid roles has some dire consequences, and we are seeing that in students today—especially around men and mental health. Promoting healthy masculinity is a process where students are challenged to break out of that box. To do so, students need opportunities to reflect on where they have received messages of masculinity, identify how they have made meaning of those messages and then chart a course of their own. I think that higher education is called upon to provide those kinds of opportunities for students.

What’s your go-to lunch spot near campus?

My favorite lunch spot near campus is probably Pete's University Park Cafe. The food is wonderful, the space is really cozy and the staff is all wonderful.

What’s a unique or creative way you maintain your wellness?

Something that I do to maintain my own sense of well-being is to make sure that I am doing the little things in my day-to-day that allow me to be my best self. Little things such as making my bed every day, carving time in my schedule for a workout or spending time getting my lunch ready for the next day all allow me to be my best.

For me, self-care isn't something that I do once and call it good, but rather it is an ongoing practice to be at my best for my friends, colleagues and the students I support. 

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