MOVEMBER: HKS Students Grow Their Mustaches to Raise Awareness of Men’s Health


 By Ryoji Watanabe, News Writer, MC/MPA’12

“Make the world a better place!” For most of us, this is the vision that drew us to the Harvard Kennedy School to continue our studies.  For some however, the need to make a difference in the world stretches beyond current academic measures.

One band of such student activists in HKS has decided to devote the month of November to promote men’s health. This group of students, who calls themselves the “Mo Bros”, will be walking around the campus sporting moustaches (Mo’s).

Every November, thousands of men in the U.S. and abroad commit to growing their Mo’s in support of the Movember movement.  The name, Movember is derived from the combination of “’Mo’ustaches” and “No’vember’”, the month that these men take action.   On November 1st, Mo Bros shaved their faces, and were ready to start growing and grooming their Mo’s until the end of the month. Movember

In HKS, it started as a conversation between the new crop of MPP’13s.  When they heard about this interesting student initiative, the Kennedy School Student Government (KSSG) Student Activity Committee decided to expand the initiative to include the entire student body.  It announced the movement to all students on November 1st.  KSSG has also invited the female population (Mo Sistas) to join the activity as well.  Participating students are asked to register with their picture with clean-shaven faces, and pick a cause that they want to support during this month.

According to Adam Garone, CEO and Co-Founder of Movember Foundation, “’Movember’ began as a bit of a joke.”  He continues, “These days you can’t grow a moustache without people asking what’s going on, leading to amazing conversations about cancers that affect men.”

The organization started in Melbourne, Australia in 2003.  In less than a decade, it has become a global movement.  Today, more than 1.1 million people have taken part and the movement raised 174 million dollars last year, according to the foundation.  In the U.S., the foundation donates to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) and LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

According to the Movember Foundation, the main aim of Movember is to raise funds and awareness for men’s health, such as prostate cancer and other cancers related to men.  They say that there is still much to be done to catch up with the women’s health movement. Arjun Ponnambalam, one of the MPP’13 students who started Movember in HKS said, ”I remembered seeing information about Movember that someone posted on Facebook, which caught my attention a few months ago.  When November was approaching, I sent out a message to a few classmates to see if people were interested in participating, and the response was very positive.” Ponnambalam also had strong feelings about increasing the awareness of men’s health issues since his brother is a medical doctor who sees to prostate cancer patients of all ages. Says Ponnambalam, “Movember is a fun way to increase awareness of an important issue.”

KSSG will be hosting a special quorum call held at the end of November to celebrate the Mo Bros and Mo Sistas and will play Mario soundtrack all day.

As the cool winter climate sets in, students are starting to wear gloves and scarves to protect themselves from chilly breeze. And what better way for men to protect their faces by having a natural scarf spread across for a good cause?

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