A crowd of men stood around, watching as those ahead of them in line attempted to jump over a rolling log positioned at shoulder height. It was the first obstacle of over 25 in the Fort Custer obstacle course, completed by the men of Koon, Niedfeldt, and Whitley Residences on Saturday Sept. 15.
Associate Dean of Men Jeffery Rogers led the students to Fort Custer as the first of many “Man Up” events this school year. Describing the program, Rogers said, “we are setting out to offer our men’s dorms an opportunity to engage in some manly activities.” More events remain in the planning stage.
After an hour-long drive, the men got off the bus and were immediately lined into formation. Rogers used his experience in the military to lead the men in marching exercises, which they would do throughout the day, attempting to strengthen discipline and order. Following Rogers, they marched to a confidence course where they were addressed by visiting professor of classics Carl Young.
Young urged the men to live in a truly manly way, quoting from the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. True manliness, he said, prominently displays cheerfulness and patience. He said that patience is not simply sitting around but is, in fact, perseverance through suffering. In fact, patience comes from the Latin word patī, meaning “to suffer.”
After the talk, the men proceeded to work through the obstacles, performing feats such as scrambling over high bars, weaving in and out of high ladders, crawling under barbed wire, and using rope to swing across a barricade. Many of the obstacles proved difficult, but everyone had a good spirit about it.
Freshman Rob Laucius said that he was impressed to see how the group supported each other.
“There was the whole group chanting for everybody,” he said. “It was a really strong bond there.”
Junior Rowan Macwan agreed.
“I think that it was good, especially from my perspective as an resident assistant, to see my freshmen be encouraging, kind, and generous and charitable to each other.”
However, the majority of the men were unable to finish the obstacle course due to time constraints.
When the men departed the course, they were fed by the fort staff before assembling to hear Professor of Politics Adam Carrington speak. Carrington utilized the famous St. Crispin’s Day Speech from Shakespeare’s “Henry V” to show what true manly friendship can be.
The event helped men to intermingle, drawing the dorms closer together, Laucius said.
“It helped me to bond with some of the guys that I haven’t gotten to know really well,” Freshman Stephen Whitney said. “I met a few new people.”
“I think the energy there was very positive, very unifying,” he said.