As the 1st of Movember, today sees the launch of Oxford RAG’s intercollegiate “Mo-Off” in keeping with the global initiative to raise awareness and funds for testicular and prostate cancer.
Colleges across Oxford are fielding teams of “Mo-Bros,” – with each “bro” pledging to begin the month with a clean shaven face, and (hoping) to conclude the month with a fully grown and groomed moustache.
As well as raising vital awareness across Oxford by displaying their facial fuzz, the teams will compete against each other to raise the most sponsorship money.
RAG President Florence Avery explained: “The idea came from Ben Rosenbaum, the St Anne’s Rep. He told me he was going to do Movember, and I mentioned it to the next rep I saw, who was someone from St Catz.
“I put them in touch with each other because they both said they wanted to do it and they decided they were going to have a competition. [Then] I thought, why not involve all the rest of the colleges as well!”
She added that this is an “easy [initiative] to get involved with, which is why it works so well as a fundraiser.
“Movemeber’s got quite a lot of its own momentum; once people sign up to it they do their own fundraising.”
OUSU’s Charities and Community Officer Sarah Santhosham oversees RAG events was enthusiastic about the inter-collegiate Mo-off.
She said: “It is a fantastic way for students to get involved in a fun competition while simultaneously raising money for research into men’s health and visibly raising the profile of such vital work.”
Sarah added: “It is hoped that students from all Colleges will enter the Mo-off and those who are unable to grow a moustache are encouraged to wear fake moustaches (which are widely available) or draw them on.”
Accordingly Michael Davies, Vice-President of RAG, emphasised how everyone can be involved, regardless of gender. He said: “Women of Oxford needn’t sit on the side-lines as this battle of bristles gets underway.
“Mo Bros need Mo Sistas[sic] to support them, by raising awareness and maybe even sponsoring a Bro who has particularly impressed you with the luscious locks above his lips.”
College charity reps have also responded positively to the idea of a Mo-off. Charity rep for Christ Church, Olivier Gleeson, said: “I think it is a great initiative and anything that encourages individuals to raise money for worthwhile causes should be supported.”
Alongside the inter-collegiate competition, St Anne’s and St Catz will be going head to head in an Anne’s VS Catz Movember Challenge. This was organised by RAG Rep Ben Rosenbaum, who thought the best way to make Movember as big an event as possible was to challenge another college.
Ben said: “I got in touch with Danny Smith, the charities rep at Catz, and he loved the idea of a ‘Movember-off’. We thought a little bet would make it even more fun so we decided that the rep from the college that raised the least money would have to keep their moustache ‘til Christmas.”
In light of this he added: “I hope that Anne’s will win. It may have been a mistake telling my team that if we lose, I’ll look like a fool for twice as long as everyone else, as this could have a pretty terrible impact on our fundraising. But in all seriousness, I’m very confident that my Mo Bros and Mo Sistas at Anne’s have got what it takes to beat Catz.”
Ben also explained his passion for the initiative, which lies in its potential to promote vital awareness. He said: “Prostate cancer used to be an awkward subject amongst many men, but Movember has really brought it out into the open, which has resulted in countless early diagnoses and saved lives.”
As a global movement, Movember is growing each and every year. It has expanded from 30 Mo Bros in Australia in 2003, to 854,288 Global Mo’s in 2011, raising GBP 79.3 Million. The funds that Movember raise in the UK are invested in programmes that address the strategic priorities Movember has identified, related to both prostate and testicular cancer. The three areas of investment in the UK for 2012 are Awareness & Education, Survivorship and Research.
Keep your eyes peeled for blooming bristles across Oxford and make sure to support any Mo-Bros you know in their hair raising journey.
Byron Burgers have also pledged their support for the cause, offering a free burger or main course salad to anyone who raises £25 or more in sponsorship money. The offer is valid every day between 7th and 20th November.