Tag Archives: controversy

A Note From the Opinion Editor

Regarding the Foghorn’s running of MEChA’s and other concerned student letters in this issue

Since our Foghorn April Fool’s issue, which offended a number of readers (an offense we did not intend and deeply regret), we invited the offended to publish letters of response. Instead, the Culturally Focused Clubs wrote the Foghorn a letter in response to the issue, but published it through their own e-newsletter, not allowing the Foghorn to publish it.

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Staff Editorial

When Satire Creates Discourse, We Want in on the Conversation

This past week, the Foghorn released a special edition on April 1 with the hopes of highlighting issues in recent news through satire. The main intention of producing this issue was to publish an engaging collection of stories for the student body. A handful of articles in a few of our sections mocked homophobic laws and institutions, as well as USF’s administration’s obvious need to brandish a flag celebrating our diverse population on campus.

While we have received a lot of positive feedback and appreciation from students, professors and advisors, we recognize that not everyone was comfortable with how these issues were covered. We recognize that everyone’s feelings are valid, and understand that we upset students with our satire. Seeing as we are a paper meant to be a voice for the students at this university, this is of very serious concern to us. We apologize to those that were hurt by our content.

As a result, we hope that this response and commentary will lead to a productive, informative discourse. It is our desire to organize an open, mediated forum hosted by and for students, advisors and professors in order to create a mature and professional conversation around these issues.

We do want to clarify that no article was written with ill will or malice. As evidenced by our issues throughout this past academic year, we have always been supporters of the LGBTQ community and the diverse student body at USF, covering many topics and events.

Simply to clear any misconceptions in regards to the aims of our articles, the following are what we intend with our satire:

Our front page article, “Ukrainian Army Begins to Recruit LGBTQ Community as the Secret Weapon Against Russia”, and our page 6 article, “Chick-fil-A Comes to Campus”, were satirical pieces ridiculing oppressive institutions — the likes of Russia’s parliament and fast food company, Chick-fil-A. The butt of our jokes was not the LGBTQ community, but in fact, the anti-gay stances taken by both Russia and Chick-fil-A. Russia has been the target of much criticism due to its recent legislation banning the use of vocabulary in reference to the LGBTQ community and much more. In turn, our Chick-fil-A article meant to humorously relay how we had no doubt that our San Franciscan values would eventually rub off on Chick-fil-A if they ever set up camp in our cafeteria. The reappearance of the queer community in the issue was not purposeful, but merely coincidental.

Our page 3 article, “Student Pets Now Allowed in Dorms” was mocking USF’s administration and its obsessive need to “meet diversity quotas” and “increase numbers” rather than actually serve the needs of the enrolled students they boast of admitting. It is easy to admit a student, but as the educational demonstration, USF Without Their Quota, put on by MEChA de USF on March 27 stated as their mission: students of color are more than statistics and numbers; they deserve academic and financial resources that will ultimately serve their continuing success on campus.

Lastly, our page 8 article, “Dons to Switch Name to “Pink Fairy Armadillos” was a light-hearted attempt to challenge the branded masculinity of the USF athletics department. The pink fairy armadillo is a real animal, and can be found in the grasslands and plains of central Argentina.  “Pink Fairy Armadillo” is its real, scientific name. We did not make it up; we thought it was  a potentially adorable mascot. By choosing a small, obscure animal that would typically never be associated with sports, it acts as a symbol for the overemphasis on toughness and competition in sports, especially in USF’s conference where other teams have mascots like Bulldogs, Tigers and Lions.

Again, we would like to reiterate that the mission of our paper is to create and foster positive, intelligent discourse. We look forward to meeting both our supportive and our concerned readership soon, once we organize the logistics of our open forum. Of course, we welcome the submission of any letters and editorials to the Opinion section for publication. Our section editor’s email is listed below in the submission policy box.

Vagina Monologues Panel Pinpoints Controversial Scene as Cause of Debate

Monologues panel discussion

USF Profs. Nikki Raeburn, Peter Novak and Dean of Students Mary Wardell discussed the controversy surrounding the performance of “The Vagina Monologues” in Presentation Theater. Religious colleges get lots of flack for hosting the performance. (Melissa Stihl|Foghorn)

With colorful paintings depicting various parts of the female body displayed on stage in the Presentation Theater, several key members from the production team of “The Vagina Monologues” hosted a panel discussion that focused on the criticism that the provocative series of speeches prompts. Producer and alumna Julie Henderson introduced guest panelists Peter Novak, associate dean for the arts and humanities and a performing arts professor, Mary J. Wardell, associate vice president and dean of students and Nikki Raeburn, a sociology professor and breast cancer survivor. Each guest brought a unique perspective- that of a gay person, a single mother and a former student at a Jesuit seminary program. Along with these members of the USF faculty, director Meg O’Connor and cast member Megan Pohlman, a sophomore psychology major, tackled the topic of why some groups object to the performance that Novak described as a community ritual.

“The Vagina Monologues” is a series of speeches that is based on hundreds of interviews of women conducted by feminist activist and advocate Eve Ensler in 1996. Ensler asked these women about their sexual experiences and received spirited answers to her odd questions, like “If your vagina could talk, what would it say?” and “If your vagina could wear clothes, what would it wear?” The monologues surround not only topics concerning female sexuality- masturbation, orgasms, and the body- but also social concerns such as how we define gender and historic sexual abuses like Japanese “comfort women” during World War II.

One critique that the panel addressed is that “The Vagina Monologues” is too exclusive. The title itself appears to be marketed to women only. Novak, the only male panelist, said that women’s voices need to be heard, and that this takes priority over men’s feelings of exclusion. He said, “The show becomes a worldwide phenomenon that is vital and important.”

Wardell said, “Each woman has multiple narratives to be told.” She went on to say that the performance allows students to further expand the dialogue about violence against women. Raeburn was concerned about whether the performance could adequately represent all women’s views. The performance attempts to display a wide variety of women; for example, the monologues include single, married, straight and lesbian women. It also integrates the role of women as mothers, spouses, partners and providers. Raeburn pointed out that gender is socially constructed and that modern society determines what is masculine and what is feminine. Pohlman posed a question that illustrated this idea: “What does it mean to be a strong, powerful woman?”
The question of how women interpret gender is not what many conservative groups are concerned with.

Novak, who once attended a Jesuit seminary program, thinks that these groups oppose the “Vagina Monologues” performance because people are affronted by the idea of the body, as it appears provocative and threatening. More specifically, Novak points to the monologue in which a woman who was raped experiences “salvation” after a sexual encounter with an older woman. Some Catholics and other religious groups vehemently oppose the use of religious language and terms like salvation and baptism to describe an act which some churches would consider sinful. Novak said of those who criticize the show on moral grounds without having seen the performance, “They’re missing the point.” He spoke of the deeper message of human connection and its power to heal.

According to Novak, USF receives hundreds of e-mails each year saying that a Catholic university should not perform the play. However, “The Vagina Monologues” is performed on the USF campus every year. Samantha Schwartz, executive producer of the College Players, acknowledged that USF president Fr. Stephen Privett, S.J. responds to these critics and allows it to be performed. Novak said the administration is very supportive and “very open to the presentation.”

The profits from the Vagina Monologues performance go to Ensler’s nonprofit V-Day organization that supports women’s groups that tackle the issue of violence against women. Henderson said that this year’s production profits totaled $6,052. In recent years, Ensler has been focusing on preventing female genital mutilation with young girls in Africa.