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There is a Boy Crisis in America

Written by Tom Greene (Georgia)

There is a boy crisis in America. By any objective measure, from Pre-K to College, boys are less resilient and less ambitious than they were a short time ago. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, for every four men enrolled in undergraduate study, there are six women. It’s the widest educational gender gap in history.

This gender gap was first revealed in 1980 when female enrollment outpaced men for the first time in history. It marked a welcomed watershed in the evolution of education, as women finally gained equal access. However, we must also recognize that without a deliberate movement to support the positive achievement, which relies upon the mental well-being of boys and men, this gap will continue to grow.

Julie Scelfo, a writer for the New York Times, described the current college environment contributing to this gap. Our young men are negotiating a confusing world, where they are often overwhelmed by “America’s culture of hyperachievement” and “the pressure to be effortlessly perfect.” See, the new norms suggest that:

- Men should be strong, but not too strong.

- Men should be in control, but not too controlling.

- Men should be masculine, but not too masculine.

Add to this environment that college is hyper-competitive today, and the desire to achieve has never been greater. Unfortunately, these factors wreak havoc on the mental health of our young men. When young men cannot perform up to expectations, it creates a recipe for disaster.

Today there is a pronounced increase in anxiety and depression in our younger brothers. You can write this off as a “soft generation” raised on “participation trophies” and video games, but I’d encourage you to give this deeper consideration. In colleges and universities across the United States, suicide is one of the most common causes of death among students. Each year, approximately 24,000 college students attempt suicide, with a heartbreaking 1,100 students dying in their attempt. The majority of those deaths by suicide are men. And, unfortunately, we often count Sigma Nu undergraduate brothers in those statistics. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among U.S. college students.

As the father of an undergraduate student, I can attest to the increased competition on campus. And, as someone who often speaks at Sigma Nu leadership conferences, I’ve heard firsthand from our Commanders. They, and their leadership teams, are dealing with mental health crises nearly every day.

We cannot ignore this crisis. As you know, the Mission, Creed, and Principles of our Fraternity, in everyday practice, create a framework and guide for the success of college men and beyond. But we

must do even more. That’s why our national fraternity has been proactive in putting together tools and resources that collegians and chapters can use to help brothers who are struggling. We are engaging with mental health professionals across the country to ensure our members have adequate access to resources. From firsthand experience, I can tell you that we are saving lives. But deploying these kinds of tools and resources is expensive. And that’s why we need your help. Please join us in helping to combat this epidemic.

I urge you to contribute to the mental health programs that Sigma Nu provides to collegians and chapters. Today, you can make a difference in the lives of our collegians. And, who knows, your contribution may just save a life.

© 2015-2022 Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc.
9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: (540) 463-1869 | Fax: (540) 463-1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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