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Silly @ Smith

For no reason other than nostalgic curiosity (I used to run my college’s student rag), I began checking out the online editions of various student newspapers. Since these people are going to be running the show when I get old, I thought it would be a good thing to see what was going on with them right now. I was interested in their take on the Big Issue stuff: Iraq, the economy, etc. I was also looking for the everyday stuff involved in their communal lives. What’s the buzz on campus?

After following these publications, from the Ivy League to Podunk CC, I have come to believe most of this country’s institutions of higher learning are repositories of what I’m dubbing “PCIMA”: Politically Correct Idiotarian Moonbat AssMonkeys. Especially among the students who gravitate toward student governments.

(Ed.Note: all following excerpts are pulled from various electronic editions of The Sophian, Smith College’s independent student newspaper, unless otherwise cited. You can wade through ’em yourself if you want any more “context” in my sourcing.)
At sexually segregated Smith College, there is a battle brewing, a fight that strikes deep to the heart of Smith’s soul: Should the Smith Student Government Association (SGA) remain gender neutral in its constitution’s language?

I kid you not.

Last April the lil’ darlings somehow decided that “she” was unacceptable, and voted to neuter the document, changing such an intolerant, sex-specific pronoun to the more inclusive “the student.” After the vote passed and the change was implemented, students woke up and realized what some of them (less than half the students voted) had done, and didn’t know what the hell was going on.

Lauren Wolfe ’05, a senator, agreed. “Last year not enough people were really aware of the issue and a lot of people I don’t think recognized what exactly they were voting on,” she said. ” It’s a pretty major change and they had no idea that this has happened.”

It seems that back in ’03, some of the students at Smith, which only accepts students of the female phylum, were offended by the idea of being referred to as “women.” Yes, that’s right. They may all be biomechanically considered “female,” but that does not, per se, make them all members of the same group. From the info available in the Sophian’s archives, there didn’t see to be much of a fuss–or news coverage–about why this change was placed on the ballot. I had to go to the Charleston, SC Post and Courier to find something about why the matter came up in the first place:

The student body voted at the end of the semester to replace the pronouns “she” and “her” with “the student” in the student constitution to cover people who are transgendered, a term that refers to cross-dressers, hermaphrodites and transsexuals, or those who have surgically changed their sex.Exactly how many students this might apply to is not clear; Smith does not keep track of the number of transgendered students on campus.

Oh yes they do:

“We admit women,” Smith spokeswoman Laurie Fenlason said. “Smith is a women’s college. We do not expect to face the issue of a surgically changed woman on campus. “

So, this comes down to a matter of gender politics…in a population composed of persons of the same sex. Instead of a matter of “She”/”He” it’s a matter of “She”/”(fill in the blank).” I always looked at matters of gender as the former; according to student Schuyler Clemente, it is the latter:

When I attended a March 22 panel on feminism and transgender identities, I heard a comment which really embodies how I feel regarding the issue of the SGA constitution’s gender neutrality: Smith is a single-sex school with many genders.

Let me bring part of Smithie Sara Brickman’s defense of leaving the language gender neutral into play:

…the use of a gender-neutral alternative in the SGA constitution is not only more inclusive to Smith students who do not identify as women, but is the prerogative of every current and future student. While many of us may be quite comfortable with the gender we were assigned at birth, our identities may change later. And while many Smith students that come after us may enter feeling that they are women, it is their right to change their identity as they see fit.

OK, I’m cool with that, but if a Smith student undergoes an operation that turns someone registered as “Penny” into a newly minted “Paul,” Smith would show Paul the door.

But the background of how this amendment came into existence is what tickled my PCIMA meter. Here’s a bit from a letter signed by 116 Smith Alumns:

A vote last year approved a change to make the constitution gender-neutral. Fewer than half the students voted, however, and college spokeswoman Ann Shanahan reports there were “some irregularities with the balloting process.”

Let’s have some more on these “irregularities,” like about the way this change was presented to the Smith community. Lauren Wolfe:

The Sophian didn’t run front page articles on the topic and there was no forum where both sides of the debate felt safe enough to speak. Inevitably, those who were interested in changing the constitution voted for it. Those who were not interested in it were not informed and didn’t vote. Others who did not vote include: the majority of the student body, most JYA students, students who had voting complications, and students who could not open the online attachments that were necessary to see what was being voted on…. When I returned to campus this fall, I was shocked by the number of people who approached me with questions about how the controversial amendment got passed. People said that they remember voting, but they never saw this on the ballot (because it was not ON the ballot, it was an attachment. The SGA had done nothing to ensure that the greater Smith community was involved in the amendment’s discussion.

Finally, the death blow, the ultimate testament to PCIMA running amok, drunk in their self-righteousness. Wolfey, baby! Bring it home for LeatherPenguin:

This fall I gathered the courage to speak my mind and I began work to allow the entire student body to vote on this issue. When I first brought forth my claims, I was amazed that those who preach against intolerance and aim for inclusion are the first to silence, exclude, and be intolerant to all views that aren’t theirs. I was immediately labeled “homophobic” and “transphobic” and “intolerant.” To be called intolerant at Smith College is about the equivalent of a US Senator being called a terrorist. People immediately organized to silence me. My experiences this year have taught me that some Smith students would rather name-call and silence the opposition than have an inclusive debate. They would rather stand up and state that everything is offensive, than actually listen to what is being said. And most of all, they have a leader in their oppression of debate, that leader is the SGA President, Liz Leidel ’04.

BAM! Slam Dunk. End. Of. Story.

Now I guess I’m gonna add a new category to the blog, “PCIMA.” Doing this was so much fun, I’m gonna keep keep it rolling on.

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