President’s Council recommends center

by James Huddleston
News Editor

Transylvania’s commitment to diversity will soon be realized in a new way — through the creation of a Center for Gender and Sexuality Issues.

The center (whose name may be shortened to simply Women’s Center) will provide support to transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual students and offer educational materials to the campus community on a variety of sexual orientation and gender issues.

The idea for the center originated from a focus group formed by the President’s Council whose job was to formulate a way to address gender and sexuality issues on Transy’s campus.

The group includes women’s studies faculty members Drs. Ellen Cox, Melissa Fortner and Simona Fojtová. These professors based their original discussion on two journal articles: “Out of the Classroom: A Chilly Campus Climate for Women?” by Roberta Hall and Bernice Sandler, and “The Campus Climate Revisited, Chilly for Women Faculty, Administrators, and Graduate Students,” also by Sandler.

“Part of our focus,” said Fojtová, “was to compare institutional resources devoted to promoting gender equity at Transy with other colleges.”

Both articles examine the persistence of gender stereotypes, inside and outside the classroom, at colleges and universities across the nation.

“Even though men and women are presumably exposed to common liberal arts curriculum and other educational programs during their undergraduate years,” note Hall and Sandler, “it would seem that these programs serve more to preserve, rather than reduce, stereotypic differences between men and women in behavior, personality, aspirations and achievement.”

Fojtová hopes that the establishment of the center will help eradicate some of the stereotypes about gender and sexuality that still plague college campuses, including Transy’s.

“In general terms,” Fojtová said, “creating a resource center will be one of the ways to address issues of gender inequality on campus by providing educational opportunities, workshops and training about gender and sexuality issues.”

Transy’s center will draw inspiration for its design and operation from existing centers at other colleges.

“The focus group has examined other colleges who have a resource center for gender and sexuality issues,” said Fojtová, “and will continue to learn from the experience of other colleges who have already created similar resource centers.”

The location and exact physical specifications of the center have not yet been determined. However, these details will be discussed in upcoming meetings, which both students and faculty are invited to attend.

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One Response to President’s Council recommends center

  1. Mike Laney says:

    Just a few random thoughts:
    And where will the Heterosexual Male Center be located?
    I would respectively request that if Drs. Cox, Fortner and Fojtová are “beginning their discussions” with studies from almost thirty years ago they might also include Heller, Puff and Mills (1985). It argues that Hall and Sandler’s 1982 article may “perpetuate a completely inappropriate image of women college students as meek, unconfident, undereducated, and unchallenged. This characterization could be counterproductive and discriminatory for women in higher education (p. 459.)” I would also respectively suggest that before the University invest time and money into this center that they might truly survey all of the students and faculty to see if there is really a “chilly climate” on campus. I might also posit that looking at the male/female ratio of the new freshman class and the establishment of this center that the “chilly climate” might be felt more by the male students of the University. A refreshing new study might be “Out of the Classroom: A Chilly Campus Climate for Men? How It May Effect Enrollment Patterns in the Modern University ”.
    Now just a cautionary note from an old fogey alumni (Class of ’74) to President Williams and the administration, please be careful in the implementation of some of your new programs. I would respectively suggest a reading of Until Proven Innocent by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson. Much of what Nan Keohane and William Chafe did at Duke brought about the storm that engulfed that campus in 2006. I would humbly suggest that your hopeful increase in admissions through the expansion of your sports programs may be at odds with those who are pushing the programs of diversity and gender studies. Let me be perfectly clear; I have no problem with the academic pursuit of either topic, I just don’t want to ever see a “Group of 88”, or PC run wild, on the Transylvania campus.
    Thank you
    Mike Laney ’74

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