Gorlok v Gorlass: Webster women tell male students “No boys allowed”

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WebsterLEADS will begin their first Women in Leadership Speaker Series: WomenLEAD this Wednesday, Sept. 21. It features series of lectures that feature female leaders on campus, from students to the administration, including President Elizabeth Stroble. Here’s the catch: the invitation extends only to females.

So, just because I have a penis means I can’t attend?

I find it interesting that on campus we seem so concerned about making sure everything is within the bounds of equality, yet all I see is sexism at its worst. In fact, it’s rather insulting.

I understand that historically speaking, men have always been the “dominant” image of humans and women took the backseat. For centuries, men have belittled the image of women. Sexual discrimination was everywhere. We continue to have problems with sex equality today as much as we struggle with racial equality.

I thought times had changed. So why is WebsterLEADS trying to keep the testosterone level down?

It’s actually a plan to help raise productivity within WebserLEADS. To gain a certificate in leadership from WebsterLEADS, students have to attend four workshops on campus and complete other miscellaneous leadership requirements.

Having a workshop for just women will help begin a series of other speaker programs. WebsterLEADS found it appropriate to just start with women to break the ice with students and administration.

Lauren Meyer, graduate student of WebsterLEADS, said there’s potential for a men’s only leadership series and even a diversity leadership series in later years. But for this year, they will focus on women.

It’s great that WebsterLEADS is able to help diversify the leadership series, but keeping men out is still an issue.

Unlike other universities, Webster University is a little different since the majority of the student population is female. We have a thriving sorority on campus, but our fraternity disbanded last year. Webster was originally a Catholic girls school. Our university president is a woman — in essence, our institution is female-centric.

Men are outnumbered at Webster, but that doesn’t mean we should be overlooked in the name of equal access.

The Association of African American Collegians allows people of all races to attend their meetings. The LGBTQ Alliance allows heterosexual people to attend. Clearly, these two groups can understand that by incorporating everyone in their meetings, they’re moving diversity and equality efforts forward.

If we’re trying to move forward as a society, simple acts like refusing to allow men to attend these lectures are holding us back from reaching that goal. It’s like we’re heading back to our roots of inequality.

Groups such as the sorority are fueled by social engagements, and therefore it is acceptable for them to be exclusive about members. Yet these speeches are for educational purposes. In this manner, we’re also neglecting about half of the university of an educational experience.

It’s not insulting that we men are banned from female social events like the sorority. But keeping us out of enlightening speaking engagements that could open our eyes to the conflicts that women have with us could be.

I’m sure if WebsterLEADS held an all-male speaker series like this and didn’t allow females to attend, the women’s studies department would throw a tantrum.

Last year, The Journal ran an ad featuring women covered from mid-thigh to collarbone with newspapers in a semi-evocative house ad. Members of the women’s studies department condemned this action, but the following week when we featured an identical pose with men, they were silent.

These feminist acts have to stop. All it’s doing is promoting reverse discrimination and degrading our image as a university.

History teaches us about the struggles women went through in order to gain the rights and respect they have today. We’re more equal now than we have ever been. Not allowing men attend these events is disgraceful to those women activists’ legacies. Remember the saying, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”

We’re better than this, aren’t we?

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3 COMMENTS

  1. When 51% of elected leaders, CEOs, board members, charity directors, tenured professors, “serious” authors, Hollywood directors, etc etc are female, or even close to it, your case might sound less like whining.

  2. The premise of Mr. Coppenbarger’s editorial is intellectually dishonest in that it advocates a perspective that is, at best, misleading – and at worst, deceptive. To suggest that a leadership speaker’s series only for women represents a sociological step backwards because it caters to a narrow audience is to ignore a fundamental reality: there are numerous examples of selected admittance all around us at Webster, which do not set us back as a culture – and this speaker’s series is one of them. For example, if you want to perform in a Conservatory production, you must be in that program, no matter how good of an actor you may think you are; to take a senior-level audio aesthetics course, I’m pretty sure you need to be an audio major and not merely think it would be a cool class to take; to join Delta Phi Epsilon, you need to be female no matter how supportive you are of women; and to be an active inductee of the Big Ed Chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary (of which Mr. Copperbarger is a member), you must reside on campus – commuters need not apply.

    However, if you take the editorial’s premise at face value, none of these examples should have ever been in place because it, as the editorial would suggest, we would be “neglecting about half of the university of an educational experience,” and in some cases, even more. And while it is true that there are examples of exclusivity in our society that oppress and discriminate, a program like this doesn’t even come close to that, especially if the measure is the classically overused “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind” test.

    The reality is that the learning about leadership must take many different forms, which is why a program like WebsterLEADS contributes to this conversation in a variety of ways – like courses, workshops, service learning options, and retreats (which, for the record, we very preferentially select who can and cannot attend based on class rank – sorry.).

    However, making matters worse for this editorial are the impressively sophomoric references to male genitalia and testosterone levels, which only serve to undercut whatever message is trying to be conveyed (to quote the editorial itself: we’re better than this, aren’t we?) . But since this decidedly male angle begs for clarification, allow me (as a dude) to do so: the anatomical reason you cannot attend it not because of what you have; it’s what you don’t have that prevents you from entering.

    In other words, it’s not about you, and it’s not about men not ever being part of the conversation about women and leadership. This series represents a unique approach that advances the student –centered learning environment that is Webster. It harkens back to the roots and legacy of our institution that, for its first 47 years, to gain admission, you had to be female. To consider leadership in this light makes a distinct contribution to the scholarship of leading at Webster. To that end, I will enjoy hearing about what our next speaker had to say about it – Dean Debra Carpenter on November 9th. I look forward to not being there.

    Sincerely,

    John Buck, D.Mgt.
    Associate Dean of Students

  3. I am appalled and deeply offended by most of what you have written. Suggesting that the Women’s Studies department would “throw a tantrum” upon not being included in an exclusively male speaker series is all at once belittling, regressive, and unjust. How you could even use language like that is proof that, contrary to what you have claimed in your article, there is still gender/sex inequality at Webster University.
    When you say that “these feminist acts have to stop,” YOU set the world back about one hundred and fifty years. Without feminism Webster University would never have been founded and you, as a male, would have been relegated to an emotionally stifled and unfulfilling life.
    Please take advantage of the life-changing classes that the Women’s Studies department offers. You could use the education.

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