"No Shave November" promotes facial hair, philanthropy

SU students dropped their razors and let their beards grow last month, to increase awareness of men's health issues and to make a bold statement.

Every November, men around the world stop shaving their beards - some in an effort to bring attention to men's health, some not. Various organizations promote beards during the month for different reasons, and Syracuse students also participate for their own varying motives.

Sai Prateek Narayan, a junior architecture student, began growing his beard before November at the suggestion of a friend within the architecture department. His initial reason was not to raise awareness, but to look more mature.

Photo: Gabriela Ornelas

"Not many professors take you seriously when you look like a kid."
- Sai Prateek Narayan

Timeline: History of beards

"Not many professors take you seriously when you look like a kid," said Narayan. "The more you look like an adult, the more they'll treat you like one."

Narayan explained that as he allowed his beard to grow, he also began to focus on promoting men's health in the tradition of the Movember Foundation, which hosts an annual charity event to raise awareness for prostate cancer and other male health issues.

Many people connect the Movember philanthropic event that aims to "change the face of men's health" with No Shave November, an independent contest to grow the best beard by the end of the month. While the two events are not affiliated, they share similar goals of having fun with facial hair while making a bold statement.

James Roberts, a junior computer engineering student, agreed with these goals. He began growing a beard just for the experience, but like Narayan he became increasingly aware of the efforts to raise awareness.

"I started participating in No Shave November for fun, a week prior to its beginning, but then found out that my employees were helping raise money for the initiative," Roberts said. "Then I started taking a more active role."

Even the Phi Delta Theta fraternity chapter on campus attempted to organize a "Phace Off" charity contest to see which student could grow the best beard, with proceeds going to prostate cancer research. The contest eventually closed due to a lack of participants, signaling a trend that often occurs during facial hair contests as the month wears on. While the events urge participants to stay involved for the entire month, many individuals only participate for as long as they feel comfortable, shaving when their facial hair begins to demand too much maintenance.

Pranay Khalsa, a junior finance and information technology student, shaved after one week of participating for fun. "It was too much of a pain," Khalsa said. "It was itchy."

While Roberts also shaved two weeks into the month, he insisted that growing a beard is not the only way to become involved with men's health charities. He said he will continue to engage in raising money and awareness for philanthropies.

Narayan said he believes growing a beard is a personal decision, but that he encourages other men to make an effort to participate, whether for a month or longer.

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