Letter to the Editor: Professors examine the culture on campus

By Alexandra Hill | April 21, 2018 7:42pm
Pictured is Alexandra Hill. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Hill.

We write in response to the Wally awards incident, as reported by student-athlete and Beacon reporter Olivia Sanchez. As faculty members who believe in the stated mission of the university to teach the heart and the hands as well as the mind, we are in complete solidarity with the students who are appalled and outraged by the inflammatory rhetoric used by the event’s emcee.

The fact that a senior so close to graduation could even imagine that his prepared remarks would be well received strikes us as exposing a much deeper rooted problem on our campus than a single person’s views. The stated and officially espoused values of our campus are not reflected in this young man’s speech, and yet almost no administrator, coach, or staff present tried to stop him. These combined factors suggest that a persistently sexist and misogynist culture exists on our campus, in spite of well intentioned efforts in the past to address sexual discrimination (Redefine Purple Pride), the need for bystander interventions (through the Green Dot initiative), and inadequate responses to sexual assault reporting on campus. 

We stand with the many students and other members of the University community who were hurt, offended, and even felt assaulted by the student’s remarks. We call on UP’s administration to examine thoroughly the hiring practices, staff training, and culture in the Athletics division in particular, and across all campus units as a whole, that have enabled such a debacle. We also acknowledge the worry, expressed by some students, that unconscious racial bias could result in a harsher punishment for the emcee, a young man of color, than a white male student would receive. It is incumbent upon each of us to reflect on our own prejudices and assumptions, and UP can and must do better to insure that all students learn more inclusive and empathetic lessons than the ones some of them are currently absorbing.

Written by: The Gender and Women’s Studies Minor Advisory Committee

Genevieve Brassard (English) and Alexandra Hill (International Languages & Cultures), co-directors

Vail Fletcher (Communication Studies) 

Jeff Gauthier (Philosophy)

Christin Hancock (History)

Kathleen McManus (Theology)

Martin Monto (Sociology)

Anissa Rogers (Social Work)

Lara Trout (Philosophy)

Additionally signed by: 

Ami Ahern-Rindell (Biology)

Lauren Alfrey (Sociology)

Christina Astorga (Theology)

James Baillie (Philosophy)

Amy Beadles-Bohling (Biology)

Michael Cameron (Theology)

Heather Carpenter (Environmental Science)

Marcela Cinta (International Languages & Cultures)

Alexa Dare (Communication Studies)

David DeLyser (Performing and Fine Arts)

Carol J. Dempsey, OP (Theology)

Laurie Dizney (Biology)

Andrew Downs (Psychology)

Laura Dyer (Biology)

Maria Echenique (International Languages & Cultures)

Louisa Egan Brad (Psychology)

Andrew Eshleman (Philosophy)

Caery Evangelist (Philosophy)

Alice Gates (Social Work)

Rebecca Gaudino (Theology)

Andrew Guest (Psychology)

Nina Henrichs-Tarasenkova (Theology)

Cara Hersh (English)

Hannah Highlander (Math)

Susan Hinken (Library)

Molly Hiro (English)

Mead K. Hunter (Performing and Fine Arts)

Carolyn James (Math)

Khadija Khalife (International Languages & Cultures)

Lars Larson (English)

Bohn David Lattin (Communication Studies)

Mindi Logan (Performing and Fine Arts)

Lora Looney (International Languages & Cultures)

John McDonald (English)

Jeffrey Meiser (Political Science)

September Nelson (School of Nursing)

Katie O’Reilly (Biology)

Bonnie Parks (Library)

Colin Patrick (Philosophy)

Michael Prendergast (Theology)

Tara Prestholdt (Biology)

Giannina Reyes-Giardiello (International Languages & Cultures)

Bryan Rookey (Sociology)

Sruthi Rothenfluch (Philosophy)

Alejandro Santana (Philosophy)

Sarina Saturn (Psychology)

Theodore Scharle (Philosophy)

Traci Schick (International Languages & Cultures)

Heidi Senior (Library)

Diane Sotak (Library)

Ben Tribelhorn (School of Engineering)

David Turnbloom (Theology)

Tammy VanDeGrift (School of Engineering)

Matthew Warshawsky (International Languages & Cultures)

Sarah Weiger (English)

Christine Weilhoefer (Biology)

Rachel Wheeler (Theology) 

Karen Eifler (School of Education)

Jennifer McDaneld (English)

Alexandra Hill is an Associate Professor of German and can be reached at hill@up.edu