"Movember" team captain Arjun Gowda, Class of 2015, shows off his moustache from a previous year's campaign.
Medical student Arjun Gowda wants you to ask about his moustache.
Throughout the month of November, the Wayne State University School of Medicine third-year student will be more than happy to discuss why his normally clean-shaven face sports a full-on ’stache. The reason is “Movember,” an annual campaign that unites men and women at the School of Medicine in a month-long fundraising effort to benefit men’s health initiatives.
“The idea is to get people to donate, but it’s more about being a walking billboard for men’s health,” Gowda said.
To join or donate to the cause, visit http://us.movember.com/team/1014741.
Movember, first launched 10 years ago in Australia, raises awareness and funds for prostate and testicular cancer initiatives and mental health. Men are encouraged to shave Nov. 1, then grow full moustaches for the 30 days in November, turning themselves into walking conversation starters and collecting donations for charity. No goatees or beards are allowed.
Gowda emphasizes that women can (and do) get involved as well. Some even sport fake moustaches in profile pictures, which they can post to their official Movember page, as well as on social media sites like Facebook, to encourage family, friends (and even their instructors) to give to the cause.
“Each individual person can promote themselves. Movember profiles can link directly to Facebook,” Gowda said.
Gowda is captain of the School of Medicine’s overall Movember fundraising team – WSUSOMOUSTACHES – and is looking for at least one first-year and second-year medical student to take a leadership role in strategizing and promoting Movember within their respective class.
He co-founded the White Coat Mustache Challenge with 2013 School of Medicine graduate Andrew Vollman, M.D., and fourth-year medical student Adam Russman, who has been involved with Movember since starting at the School of Medicine in 2010.
“I helped with some PR and mostly spread the word amongst friends and family in hopes of bringing awareness of the issues that are central to Movember, and I raised funds,” Russman said. “After taking a slightly larger role with Andrew last year, we decided that Arjun and I would take over for him once he graduated.”
The first White Coat Mustache Challenge included medical students only at WSU, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. But the WSU team upped the ante in 2012 by contacting medical schools across the country. Like last year, 10 medical schools will be fighting for bragging rights, including Oakland University, University of California at Irvine and University of Nebraska Medical Center. Last year’s challenge raised $17,000, including a hefty $4,000 from the School of Medicine’s team. Teams will even share moustache'd photos of themselves at http://whitecoatmustachechallenge.com/showmeyourmo.html
“People who can grow moustaches go pretty crazy. For those who can’t, it’s a social sacrifice,” Gowda said. “Those are the people that are noticed, when they all of a sudden, have a moustache. You are literally doing something different to your face as a way to start a conversation.”
Movember was started in 2003 by a group of Australian friends. The movement quickly went viral across the world, with more than 3 million participants soliciting $446 million in donations since the initial campaign. The proceeds, collected by independent teams like the one at WSU, benefit the Movember Foundation, Prostate Cancer Foundation and LiveStrong Foundation.“It’s a fun way to educate people about health in general, not just men’s health. This is a great vehicle for teaching the same things we do on a day-to-day basis,” Gowda said.