Senior men share experiences at panel

by Julie Kim | 11/29/07 1:45am

Seven senior men spoke about their personal life experiences at the first-ever
by Grey Cusack / The Dartmouth

"'Women of Dartmouth' has been held for several years and we thought it would be great if men could share their stories too," said Zak Kaufman '08, who emceed the event. "We saw the power in that event, and there are phenomenal men at Dartmouth that people don't hear about."

The seven speakers, Sam Haynor '08, Latif Nasser '08, Jonathan Ball '08, Richard Prutzer '09, Brian Evans '08, Ian Tapu '08 and Jamal Brown '08, were nominated by professors and peers.

The crowd grew silent as the opening speaker, Haynor, recounted the Ultimate Frisbee team's car accident that left him in a coma barely able to recognize his girlfriend.

"I tried to look at it from a really goofy perspective. I never really took it seriously, even though I was just seconds away from not being here today," Haynor said.

Delving deeper into family struggles and his sister's fight with anorexia, he talked about how he chose to lead the "half-life of excitement" before he realized that life was not always about the grand and exciting, but about the people near and important to his life.

"Thank your elders, inspire your peers, and give gifts to the young," Haynor said.

Nasser poked fun at his Muslim-sounding name and Canadian citizenship before heading on to more serious topics such as the importance of recognizing and appreciating diversity.

"I'm not especially a man of Dartmouth. Just as I'm not especially an international at Dartmouth or especially a minority at Dartmouth or especially a financial aid recipient at Dartmouth. I am especially an undergraduate student of Dartmouth, right?" Nasser asked the crowd.

Other men, including Ball, talked about breaking the stereotypes in coming to Dartmouth from Memphis, Tenn., as a basketball player.

"My time at Dartmouth has been very hard in many ways," Ball said. "I took pride in showing everyone I wasn't just an athlete."

He also narrated the challenges he faced in the time away from his family due to basketball responsibilities, highlighting his loneliness during winter breaks as a defining factor in building his strength.

"As a man of Dartmouth, I value this experience because through the winters, through this long road, through the long bus rides, I have become the man I am," Ball said.

He also highlighted the stress that came from striving to be a leader on campus in addition to playing a sport, and credited his grandmother for leaving him with the perseverance to push ahead.

"Why I do everything I do is to be a good man, a good father, and a good husband," he said to a standing ovation.

Evans, who got married during college, told the crowd about the difficulty of transferring from a small town in Texas to Dartmouth. He shared an anecdote about his wariness of his roommate hailing from Boston before the 2004 elections, which later led to a strong friendship.

"It's very hard to leave what you're accustomed to, and come to a different community," Evans said.

He talked about the strength and responsibility his marriage gave him and also expressed his wishes to break out of the stereotypes given to him by playing football.

"Hopefully when people watch me, they'll see I'm trying to set a good example," Evans said.

Encouraging the audience to meet as many people as possible to hear their stories, he also asked older students to reach out to the underclassmen.

"It may be hard times for people -- you pass people on the Green, and you have no idea," Evans said. "Help the younger people get through that so the campus can become stronger, more unified."

Tapu shared his tumultuous childhood as a child of immigrants and the difficulties that came from having to be the breadwinner for his family at the age of 20. He stressed his love for his family and his happy childhood despite not even being to afford housing at times.