Editorial: Let’s Hear it For the Girls Okay, Now Ladies Space to Move Forward
Women’s History Month is a time at which all aspects of diverse womanhood should be explored, reflected upon and celebrated. In every department at this university, you can find women accomplishing extraordinary feats and meaningfully contributing to their respective fields. However, while the university may recognize these achievements, there is often a sense that it is lacking in terms of how far it is willing to go to protect, value and serve all of the female or female-identifying members of the campus community.
After all, it was only a few years ago that a doctoral student was arrested for secretly recording women’s restrooms on campus for over two years. Or that a student came forward alleging that a professor offered her an “A” in exchange for sex. Or that the university was placed under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for how it handled complaints regarding sexual harassment and violence.
Like most universities across the U.S., the university is rampant with sexual assault. The partying and raging that many students are quick to laud is likely a major player in this culture of secrecy, power and shame. It probably wouldn’t be a stretch to say that most female students, as well as certain members of other marginalized groups, don’t feel safe walking home alone at night or going to the bathroom at a party by themselves.
Although the blue light system and the kNOw MORE campaign are compelling talking points for university tour guides to relay to parents and potential students, these are Band-Aid solutions that do not get to the heart of the problem. With regard to this issue, the university has continuously exhibited a fruitless dedication to reactive solutions where there should be a focus on preventative ones.
There are plenty of voices that the university ignores altogether. Accessibility is a major issue for disabled student populations in certain buildings and campus locations. Diversity is lacking in nearly every department across each school. Inclusivity with specific regard to bathroom policies is lacking, despite recent efforts to construct more all-gender restrooms across campus. Because these are all feminist issues that principally affect women, it’s important for the university to step up and cater to these calls for equality.
One could find (many) more examples of systemic misogyny in the context of this university; however, there are almost too many ways in which college is systematically inhospitable to women and marginalized identities to count — here and across the country.
But that doesn’t mean that there is not space to move forward. Neither Women’s History Month luncheons nor self-defense classes geared toward female students, for example, represent a path toward impactful change. The university should instead celebrate Women’s History Month by actively acknowledging the fact that progress still can, and must, be made. When one group, on campus and beyond, goes oppressed and unheard, all do.
Editorials reflect the majority opinion of the editorial board, led this week by Alex Eichenstein. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.