On Sept. 5, the Division of Student Life, the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, and the Rising Tide Center held a panel in the Bangor Room addressing the controversial banners that were displayed by residents of College Avenue on Aug. 25.
The banners, which sported slogans such as “Mother & Daughter Drop Off” and “Honk if she’s 18,” sparked outrage and concern among members of the community. The individuals do not live at one of the university-affiliated fraternity houses, but farther down the road.
The panel consisted of Student Life Vice President Robert Dana; Charles Zachau, a student and member of a fraternity on College Ave.; Susan Gardner, director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the Rising Tide Center; Joshua L. Stanhope, assistant director of fraternity and sorority life; Dana Carver-Bialer, graduate teaching assistant in the Communication and Journalism department; and Sam Saucier, a UMaine student activist who first reported on the banners at Mainebeacon.com.
People will default to “boys will be boys,” Carver-Bialer explained. “We do live in a culture that excused violence against women… it’s a reflection of society.”
Dana and Stanhope spent much of their time talking about measures they have taken to prevent this kind of behavior.
“We spend a lot of time talking about value set,” Dana said, discussing the school’s behavioral work with athletes and members of Greek life.
In expressing their efforts to educate Greek life members and athletes on civility, the panel seemed to prompt a question from the crowd: The individuals who hung the banners were not athletes or members of Greek life, so how are they being educated?
“We can always do more” was echoed several times throughout the meeting, and two members seemed to discover a possible missing link.
“I see a lot of the same faces… it’s frustrating,” Kirstin Daley, president of the Black Student Union and PR chair for the Student Women’s Alliance and Student Alliance for Sexual Health, said. “There is a wealth of programming on this campus.”
“I agree,” Zachau said, “There’s not a lot of collaboration.” He explained that most of the outreach carried out by fraternities is philanthropic in nature and that he hopes they may begin to change the culture.
Daley called on all men to make an effort to influence other men positively.
“These people are going to joke with you. Don’t allow them that space,” Daley said, referring to misogynistically-minded individuals.
According to Dana, the students who hung the banners have met with the Community Standards Office. He also mentioned that while they have a right to freedom of expression, the message on the banner violated aspects of the community standards student conduct code.
Dana and other members of the panel described this as an opportunity to shed light on the issues of misogynistic society.
Stanhope also described his efforts to empower men to stand up for victims of misogyny and abuse. These efforts include mandatory bystander intervention for members of Greek life.
The event concluded without any major conflicts or disagreements.