Santa Clara University and Fordham University name their first-ever lay-people (and women) to become president.
By Riley Mulcahy
Opinion Section Editor
Santa Clara University and Fordham University, two Jesuit institutions, named their first female presidents, breaking longstanding traditions to name priests or theologians in the role. Tania Tetlow, Fordham’s choice for president, broke a similar tradition as president of Loyola University in New Orleans, and Julie H. Sullivan comes from St. Thomas University in Minnesota.
Both women have been hailed trailblazers for breaking down walls in predominantly male institutions and as their perspective roles as presidents, creating a space for non-lay people to control a university. Saint Mary’s has also broken the tradition; however, the first two presidents to halt the practice have been two white men, James Donahue and Richard Plumb. Santa Clara and Fordham’s announcements come at a time where there is a reckoning of racial injustice and a sudden newfound awareness of what should have been obvious a long time ago: if we want to change in our institutions, we should hire people who do not necessarily look like who have been employed for decades.
One question that is on the top of a lot of people’s minds is what type of progress will be made now that these announcements have been made. For instance, will there be a ripple effect of colleges and universities hiring women presidents and finally acknowledging the changing landscape that may not have a Jesuit or Lasallian, white male Priest or Brother that can be the anchor of a college? Will we see more diversity in admissions and more scholarships and grants for students who need them? At the same time, the average endowment for colleges and universities has skyrocketed to 1.1 Billion dollars according to Inside Higher Ed.
At Saint Mary’s, there needs to be a conversation about why a woman was not chosen over another white male, now that there is no need for the president to be a layperson. This is especially apparent considering the qualifications of the candidates Plumb was chosen over. What does it say about the university that there have only been white men at the university’s helm, and how does it benefit the university not to hire women? In the public’s view, there is no benefit in not hiring women. We must break the cycle where men are always in control of academia because it does not showcase the diversity of the professors and students, which still needs to be improved upon SMC.
According to the press release announcing Sullivan’s presidency at Santa Clara, the University updated its bylaws to remove the requirement that its President must be a Jesuit priest in June 2021. One of the reasons for the sudden change could also be that there is a decline in the number of priests and brothers, let alone those who are called to be educators. Furthermore, a more cynical view could suggest that Sullivan and Tetlow’s presidencies are based on the decline of eligible laypeople. However, this should not negate the accomplishments that they have had and should be a sign of progress.
Visiting Opinion Writer
Ukraine is one of the few countries that allows for surrogacies to legally occur, making it a hub for international parents to hire women willing to birth their children. However, Ukraine has policies only allowing surrogacy to occur if the parents are in a heterosexual relationship and have a medical reason requiring it to be done. In addition, due to the current affairs of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, both citizens and surrogate mothers alike are faced with either remaining in the danger of the conflict zone or escaping to safety.
Is the woman or the child more important during the war? Should a woman flee her home country for the sake of the child she is being paid to bear? These are the concerns that many surrogate women have felt in recent weeks during the Ukrainian Conflict. Many mothers are more concerned about their wellbeing and safety than worrying about the baby they are carrying for the arranged surrogacy. War leads to difficult decisions in morally gray areas, where those affected must do what’s best for their interests.
The mothers want to make decisions independently and are not necessarily concerned about what they want them to do. At the same time, the parents living abroad fear for the child’s safety and feel a sense of vulnerability as the surrogate mothers choose not to leave their homes for safety elsewhere. The New York Times recently reported on 19 surrogate babies being cared for by nannies after parents were barred from traveling to Ukraine.
This creates a dispute in the expectations of these women, who give up their ability to give birth to a child that is not even their own to raise. Why are the parents less concerned about the woman’s safety when the unforeseen peril produced by Russia threatens her life? There has to be empathy for the Ukrainian surrogate mothers, not just the children that they carry. Their lives have worth, too, even if it means sacrificing their safety, leaving their families behind, or even disappointing their parents.
50 years after Title IX, and there is still inequality.
By Madison Sciba
In celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day on February 3rd, SMC athletics honored women athletes during the women’s basketball game. With catered Chipotle and matching Title IX t-shirts, the Gaels were spotlighted during the halftime break. With this being the 50th anniversary of such an important piece of legislation, it seems strange how the only people to attend the celebration were the female athletes.
National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebrates the passing of Title IX in 1972. According to the US Department of Justice website, in relation to athletics, Title IX states that “No person shall on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, be treated differently from another person, or otherwise be discriminated against in any interscholastic, intercollegiate, club or intramural athletics offered by a recipient, and no recipient shall provide such athletics separately on such basis.”
Not only was the celebration held on a day during JanTerm break when practically no one was on campus except athletics, but the UCU was empty except for the women’s teams who attended. The female teams were told to attend and they would be honored, yet why weren’t the men’s teams required to attend in support? Seemingly the whole point of Title IX is so that women and men get equal opportunities in athletics. However, there is a severe lack of support for women’s teams.
For example, the UCU is packed for men’s basketball games, yet there are always open seats at women’s basketball games. Everyone at SMC knows about the men’s rugby team, which is a club sport, yet a lot of people do not know that there is a women’s rowing team which is one of the women’s D1 sports. The school's Instagram account advertises every men's basketball game and event related to men's basketball. Yet there is rarely a mention of women’s volleyball, soccer, softball, rowing, etc.
So the question is: why is there so much more support for men’s sports than women? Saint Mary’s puts such an emphasis on the star basketball team and the best rugby team in the country, yet, that does not mean those teams deserve way more support than the women’s rowing team. Even some of the men’s teams get overlooked, like the men’s golf team. Or the men’s and women’s tennis, or men’s and women’s cross country/track and field teams. Is it just because these teams aren’t featured on ESPN? Is it because they are not nationally recognized? Or is it just because they just don’t make money?
It all has to do with money. Though it cannot be officially recorded, the school justifies the imbalance because men’s basketball and rugby are supposedly HUGE money-makers for SMC. There aren’t a lot of people who are invested in collegiate rowing and it is not a well-followed sport in the US, so the rowing team doesn’t bring in a lot of sponsors and donations. However, the men’s baseball team is with a recent $1 million donation to the baseball program, which will go to a brand new stadium.
No matter how much legislation is passed, it is clear that people prefer to support men’s sports rather than women’s, and it all comes down to money. How much Saint Mary’s can profit off the team and their success. How many supporters the team gets. You can easily sell tickets to soccer, basketball, and baseball games, but you can’t make a lot of money by selling tickets to rowing races, cross country meets, or tennis matches. All this makes it clear that inequality in athletics is evident at Saint Mary’s even in 2022.
Image from the Saint Mary’s Website. From the Title IX celebration on Feb. 3rd.
Image source: https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/celebrating-womens-history-month-50-years-of-title-ix-at-saint-mary%E2%80%99s
Source: US Department of Justice https://www.justice.gov/crt/title-ix#10.%C2%A0%20Athletics%20(%C3%AF%C2%BD%C2%A7%20__.450)
Why We Need Women's History Month
March 8th marks International Women's Day, but is a single day enough to acknowledge and celebrate all that women have accomplished throughout American history?
Designating all of March as Women’s History Month gives ample time and opportunity for the education of prominent female figures that history has let slip under the rug, giving a brighter and broader spotlight for the diverse range of women overshadowed by their male counterparts in fields such as the arts, sciences, politics, sports, literature, medicine, and more. Moreover, extending the recognition of women’s history allows for a more in-depth acknowledgment of women who exist in marginalized communities, and the impactful work they have achieved for critical causes, such as queer and BIPOC women.
Women History Month emphasizes not just thanks and consideration for women past and present, but for reflection as well. Each year designates a theme, a topic to be discussed and reflected on; for this year, the theme is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” The theme for 2022 is meant to give special attention to caregivers and frontline workers for their impactful work throughout the global pandemic. It also acts as a tribute to recognize how women from all cultures have provided hope and healing during times of stress.
Additionally, important discussions and conversations for change are emphasized as well throughout the month of March. The fight for women’s rights did not end with the right to vote and access to contraceptives after all. Movements aren’t just a section in the history textbook. They are still present today, dedicated to the rights of all women, regardless of race, religion, or sexuality. Overall, it is critical to celebrate and recognize all that women have achieved and unearth all accomplishments that were lost or buried, but it is also of critical importance to recognize the struggles and fights women still face in the modern era, especially the battles fought outside of America. It cannot be expected to achieve all of this in one day.
There is no excuse for not having more inclusive texts and courses here at Saint Mary’s
By: Riley Mulcahy
Opinion Section Editor
In the never-ending pursuit of obtaining fundamental human rights for BIPOC in the United States, one could feel that there is not much a university, let alone an individual, can do to combat the blatant scar on our humanity. However, SMC can help students of color by embracing texts and creating courses that actively help dismantle the white supremacy that is so prevalent in this country. In creating a more diverse and inclusive campus, SMC appeals to students who value diversity and want to become more involved in campus life. Also, one must not forget the impact of protesting after George Floyd was murdered and how the Black Lives Matter Movement has walked the walk by supporting BIPOC individuals and creating a more diverse campus.
How is this possible when everyone has different majors and different post-college ambitions? By creating a more productive Seminar environment in which texts from Black authors are acknowledged and celebrated, and having similarly styled classes to ENGL-130, The Novels of Toni Morrison. While it is impressive that the university is creating a space for Morrison’s work, we must fight for more diverse authors being offered.
The college can do this by adding more diverse offerings for The Common Good and Community Engagement requirements. The notion that Ethnic Studies and Women and Gender Studies Departments should be solely responsible for creating more varied course offerings is not feasible. We must aim for every department to celebrate the achievements of writers, researchers, and scholars of each department, which will help students become more aware of the world of academic life. Not every person who writes a novel or textbook is a white straight male.
Although there is always progress to be made, this is not to say that there are no strides happening here at Saint Mary’s. Talking About White People About Race/White People Talking About Race, a Jan Term class taught by Scott Schonfeldt-Aultman, looked at the notion of whiteness in the context of the privilege it represents and how white students can help students of color have a better experience. As a student in the class myself, my biggest takeaway was to continually educate yourself before trying to have a person of color explain the history of trauma in this country, present due to the white supremacy that our country is rooted in. If colleges only select white authors and a handful of BIPOC authors, then we are still not even reaching the magnitude of representation, and it must be explicit.
Classes revolving around the issues of diversity and representation must be at the forefront of SMC’s curriculum, and it takes professors such as Schonfeldt-Aultman to create engaging courses that also speak to the current climate we are living in. However, we must also expect a college located in the Bay Area to have diverse texts so we will not repeat the same mistakes that generations before us have. Over the last five years, we have witnessed the fragility of democracy and the reason why we must educate, educate and educate students again on the history of this country, one that represents the Black excellence in this country, and dismantle the white supremacy that has been here longer than our country’s formation.
The Russian figure skater who was allowed to compete versus the American sprinter who wasn’t.
By Madison Sciba
After recent news of a positive doping case at the Olympics, frustrated fans are bringing to light the fact that an African-American sprinter was unable to compete as the result of a positive drug test, yet a Russian figure skater was still allowed to compete despite also testing positive. So people are asking: what is the difference between the two cases? Is it because the Russian skater is white and the American sprinter is Black?
At the trials for the last summer Olympics, 21-year-old Sha’Carri Richardson won the women’s 100-meter dash, but after testing positive for cannabis she was given a 30-day suspension from competing. This suspension resulted in Richardson missing out on the Tokyo Olympics last summer. In December of 2021, Kamila Valieva, a 15-year-old Russian figure skater, tested positive for a heart medication, which is banned as a doping agent. Even after news of her positive result came to light, she was still allowed to skate in the Beijing Olympics.
While the two cases may be similar at first glance, there are severe differences that prove that there is more to these situations. Richardson’s case and punishment were dealt with by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, while Valieva’s case was dealt with by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). The WADA recommended Valieva be suspended from the sport and barred from continuing to compete in the winter games, the RUSADA, however, has yet to comment on their findings and punishment over Valieva’s case.
Russia has already faced troubles over evidence of doping in Russian Olympians, resulting in them having to compete at the last few games as the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).
This brings another question: why is Russia still allowed to compete in national sporting events? The idea of having them compete as the ROC was supposed to be a punishment in hopes of a lesson against doping. Yet with this case of Valieva’s doping, Russia has proved that they will still dope their athletes. Why should they be allowed to cheat and get away with it? Russian athletes are still able to compete. Putin is still allowed to represent Russia at the games. Is Russia facing any actual punishment??
Source for image: npr.com
What Does Genuine Allyship Really Look Like?
In the era of social media, social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate have given rise to a new form of activism in the digital sphere. On every platform, you can find people with links in their bio to donation sites and critical news updates, if not that, a hashtag or series of emojis to symbolize support of the movement and solidarity with those negatively affected by systemic oppression.
However, the quick access and ease of the digital sphere has also given rise to another less assertive, more self-centered form of activism.
Performative Activism, also known as Slacktivism, is a form of activism that involves little to no effort, done with the intent to improve one's social image rather than show genuine support. In other words, with performative activism, the priority lies in appearing to be an ally for social praise rather than actually being an ally and engaging in the larger conversation.
So besides intent, what makes performative activism different from allyship on social media? Genuine allyship on social media involves the amplifying of BIPOC voices and the sharing of critical resources for those in need, such as donation links and petitions that can be signed. For those who consider themselves genuine allies of a cause, social media is critical for circulating information updates and news that mainstream media drops when it is no longer in their interest to cover.
Concerning those who engage in performative activism, social media is a place to give a once in a blue moon post about their righteous dedication to a cause, rather than sharing educational posts in their stories or highlights, or shedding light on events and situations that the major media may fail to cover entirely, but are still happening and affecting those who are disenfranchised.
Often enough, genuine allyship exists beyond the sphere of social media, involving the acknowledgment of privilege, and if one is able, participation in local events ran in support of the greater movement. Although social media is wonderful for the sharing of critical information and resources, no activism is more genuine than the one that involves your local community, where you can directly act and call for change at a local level to help make the first steps towards progress.
Sources Viewed/Used/Alluded To
Image (Black Square from #BlackoutTuesday, an event many activists critique as an example of performative activism, as it risked drowning out important information being spread in hashtags)
Ryan Ford '23,