I am writing in response to Josh Coppenbarger ‘s editorial commentary about our inaugural Women’s Leadership Speakers Series being sponsored by WebsterLEADS.
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 [sic] 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.
John Buck, D.Mgt.
Associate Dean of Students
I’d like to submit this as an editorial response to the “Missing the Mark” article.
This year’s Delegate’s Agenda topics are some of the best I have seen. Quite frankly, I am disappointed in The Journal for oversimplifying the topics once again.
Yes, sustainability has been brought up many times through topics such as recycling and hiring a sustainability coordinator. These are tactics. This year is different because we are asking the University to create a Climate Action Plan including increasing energy efficiency to reduce overall demand while simultaneously increasing the amount of energy we get from renewable sources. This plan would also include smaller tactics to reduce our collective environmental impact such as recycling efforts, rain gardens, composting, etc. The difference this year is that students are not asking for a tactic, we are asking for a commitment and a plan with a goal.
As an experienced presenter, I warn the Journal against advising that the topics not be “too radical” or “too costly.” At a time when the university is creating a new Master Plan, any and all options should be considered. It is the students’ job to make a big ask.
As to the next topic, the Journal again oversimplified. The point of the transportation task force is to reimagine parking, explore expanding public transit options, and incentivize students to bike or walk. Many of the students presenting this year have been both residents and commuters making us more aware of both sides of the issue.
The issue with the integration of the Conservatory is not about forcing “them” to hang out with “us” or vice-versa. It’s about creating more opportunities in their busy schedule for Conservatory students to become more involved in student organizations and be able to get work-study jobs outside the Conservatory.
The Journal cannot solely answer the issue of dissemination of information. This newspaper has limited space and has a reputation for not only oversimplifying but also for rampantly misquoting. Perhaps if the Journal improved its reputation for quality more people would look to it for accurate information.
The issue of improved dining services keeps coming up on Delegate’s Agenda because it has yet to be truly addressed. Sodexo leadership has a reputation for avoiding students with concerns and Dining Advisory Board often gets caught up in small projects. Improvements to nutrition, real vegetarian and vegan options, knowing the ingredients and source of our food, and getting more organic and local options is very important to the health of our student body. While students may like pizza and wings, it’s important to give them real nutritious food as well to choose from. Perhaps we will see preferences switch.
The issues brought up and the presenters who volunteered this year promise to make it a Delegate’s Agenda to remember. We sincerely hope that the Journal will accurately report on the presentations and the response.
Senator At-Large, SGA
[Editors Note: “Missing the Mark” ran last week as an unsigned editorial on our opinion page, not as a news article.]
I’m a senior animation major. I read the journal on a regular basis and while it’s normally interesting, I’ve never felt the need to write back in a response. However I think that Coppenbarger brings up several good points with this issue, including the non-discriminatory practices of the AAAC and LGBTQ Alliance as well as the response from the Webster community in response to last year journal advertisement.
Yes I am a male, and yes I have an interest in going to this event. I find women’s issues very interesting – I grew up in a small business that my Mother owned and ran and around my sister who graduated from the University of California-Berkley with a degree in Women’s Studies. So growing up not only have I been exposed to these things, but I do see their importance.
However, what I don’t understand is that if Webster wants to teach equal rights and gender non-discrimination how can they teach that without inviting the people who need quite possibly need to hear it the most?