Wednesday, February 10, 2010

To Label Me is to Negate Me: University of Redlands Students Resist Gender Stereotypes

This post has been submitted by Evan Matthews, a University of Redlands student majoring in Race and Ethnic Studies, who has been organizing on campus.

For the past few weeks, students at the University of Redlands have been under attack by an all too common social force: oppressive and stereotypical gender representations. The same force that spawned guerrilla movements, insider criticism, and intellectual debate has again emerged in Redlands, California.

Our initial concern arose when we saw a casting call our University put out for a video targeting potential students. Each female called for represented a different oppressive stereotype: beautiful diva, athletic girl, and nerdy girl.

Concerned individuals spoke out, forcing a public meeting between the marketing department and students to be held. Over two hundred students and faculty members showed. While Marketing took responsibility for the casting call— stating they received the call from the film company, releasing it verbatim without review — their use of the casting call displays not a passive overlook, but an active silence that rings in ears throughout our community.

At this meeting we were shown the entirety of the University's marketing strategy which contained billboard taglines (already in use) such as: “Seriously? You think you are going to get by on looks alone?” and “If you want an average life. Get an average degree somewhere else.” I shudder at the thought of a child reading those words, subconsciously forming images of success in their mind that tell them their options are to be beautiful and successful, or average.

Students are not going down quietly and, hopefully, not at all. Letter writing campaigns to our university president Stuart Dorsey ( have been in place for the past week, students Ani Seuylemezia ’13 and Nick Daily ’11 are in process of getting negotiations with President Dorsey and the Board of Trustees on the table, with countless students undergoing independent projects that represent our community in different ways. While our immediate goal is to get an accurate representation of our University out, more importantly we hope this serves as a notice to Redlands and the rest of America, that dangerous ideas of masculinity and femininity will be met with powerful force and will never be accepted.

To contact Evan Matthews, the writer of this post, email him at To join the University of Redlands feminist club, LUST, which is also active on this issue, contact LUST President Sarah Wemple at

Photo courtesy of

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