SGA delves into bills, vandalism
by Kristin Merritt
Surprise, mixed with general confusion was the response most students felt when they received their bookstore charges and telephone bills in their Post Office Box in October. Most students had expected these accounts to be sent home to their parents as it had been done in preceding years. The Student Government Association addressed this topic of debate during their meeting Monday, November 17th.
Susan Trabucchi, president of SGA, and Julie Doig '87 met last Friday with the Comptroller of the College Marvin Kuipers to discuss the new system of billing. In Doig's presentation to the legislature at the meeting, several topics and questions which had been asked by many students were discussed: "How and why the change in the billing system came about, the specificity of Health Center tests on the bills, and the lack of student input into the decision to change the billing procedure."
In regards to the Health Center bills, a new system is being looked into which will help to protect the confidentiality of some tests and examinations administered by the Health Center. Apologizing for the lack of student input in and awareness of the decision to change the billing procedure, a letter of explanation from the Comptroller's Office will be included in the December billing.
Another issue discussed at the November 17 SGA meeting was the proposed endorsement of a letter from the Lesbian Alliance concerning the defacing of their bulletin board in the College P.O. The letter condemned this action as a violation of the Mount Holyoke Honor Code and of an organization's right to express its own individual beliefs. The motion was voted upon and approved.
To the Editor:
On Thursday night, November 13, the Lesbian Alliance bulletin board in the post office was vandalized. The posted notices were torn down, destroyed and replaced by anti-lesbian graffiti. Not only is this a violation of the college honor code, but is an insult to the integrity of the Mount Holyoke community.
While this may seem trivial to some, it is indicative of the wider hatred and intolerance of lesbians in this society and on this campus. It is the right of all members of the community to live on this campus without fear of harassment from our peers. We would like to believe that the campus at large does not support this blatant display of heterosexism/homophobia.
At this point in time we demand tolerance and hope that this will lead to understanding and acceptance. We encourage responses and replies to the letter.
Kathy Brandt '87, P.O. 142, ext. 4297
Jen Dugan '87
Bridget Fahrland '87
Jeannette Ford '87
Susan Freedman '89
Chris Ray '88
Jen Ross '87
Beth Ryan '87
Heidi Jones '88
Maggie Tanis '87
To the Mount Holyoke College community:
On Wednesday, November 18, someone hung a banner with a "ban lesbians" symbol on it on Skinner Hall. This was the latest in an escalating series of bigoted attacks on minorities in the Valley. For this to be done at all is unacceptable; for it to have been done within hours of the all-campus meeting on racism is appalling!
The minority communities are working admirably to recognize our unity and band together to combat this fear and ignorance. Other members of the community must join us and take a stand against bigotry and intolerance of all kinds.
Kathy Brandt '87
Kate Fahey, Assistant Dean of Students
Jeanette Ford '87
To the Editor:
On November 12 there was a meeting at the Women's Center where people concerned about "heterosexism" on our campus came together to discuss "solutions" and to "fight back." Heterosexism, for those who do not know, is the same as "homophobia," or more simply, institutionalized discrimination by heterosexuals against homosexuals, for the sole reason that they are homosexuals.
The meeting started out with people giving examples of heterosexism which they have experienced. For example, one student explained she had a cat in her room, and that another student on her hall had complained to the S.A. about it. The student felt the complaint came about not because she had a cat, but because she was a lesbian. When other people in the dorm found out about this (it was assumed the S.A. told others), this too was considered heterosexism; despite the fact that if an S.A. did in fact go outside the bounds of her duty by not keeping such floor matters confidential, it cannot be assumed that it was an act of heterosexism. After all, who knows if the S.A. didn't do the same thing with other problems brought to her attention, and was not deliberately maligning a particular student because she was a lesbian.
It was also the contention of most of the concerned students at the meeting that lesbians at Mount Holyoke do not receive sufficient support from the administration. This is also to be regarded as heterosexism. This is unfair to our administration since it seemed to be an unfounded assumption, rather than a fact with anything to back it up. Anyway, one might be thinking, what is any one person able to do about a problem as all-pervasive and institutionalized as heterosexism? Education was the answer given at the meeting. Lesbian alliance workshops, for example, should be mandatory for all dorms.
This brings us to another question raised at the meeting (we think it is important to note that it was not raised by a lesbian), and that is what, if anything, do the lesbians on our campus do to provoke heterosexism? It was pointed out that making L.A. workshops mandatory may be intimidating to many students. This was countered with the argument that it is especially these students who "need" L.A. workshops to overcome their fear of lesbianism. Another way of provoking heterosexism was said to be the use of terms on posters announcing the meetings such as "fight back" and "smash" heterosexism, especially when the term heterosexism itself may not have been clear, being misinterpreted as meaning heterosexuals. One student at the meeting defended this by saying that since men use aggressive terms, why can't women?
So what was accomplished at the meeting? Well, it was decided that there would be a campaign to combat heterosexism with leaflets made up to explain what heterosexism is and the encouragement of students to war pink triangles. The pink triangle, it was explained, is what homosexuals were made to wear in the concentration camps Nazi Germany. Our wearing them would be to show solidarity.
We would like to urge Mount Holyoke students not to wear the pink triangles. Heterosexism, as described above, is a form of discrimination. It is no different than discrimination on the basis of race or religion. If everyone who felt they were discriminated against had a similar "education campaign" to eradicate that discrimination, there would be a different mandatory workshop in the dorms each night.
Recent incidents of racism in our valley, at UMass, shows that discrimination plays a large role in our lives, regardless of one's sexual preference, race, religion, ethnic background, etc. Rather than single out one group of people who are discriminated against, in this case lesbians (there is no question that heterosexism [is] here and elsewhere), we would like to make the following suggestion. Rather than wear pink triangles there should be a campaign to make people more sensitive to discrimination in general. We suggest that the group which would have made pink triangles instead make blue D's. Blue is Mount Holyoke's color, and the D could symbolize both the diversity of our campus, and the discrimination for all people which we would like to overcome.
We realize this letter may be seen as homophobic, and frankly we don't care. We truly believe, that we should not be divided on these matters. We are a community, and the best way to have any kind of campaign is to have support from the community as a whole, not to isolate one group out of many who experiences discrimination.
Beth Halbrecht '87
Jennifer Rice '87