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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Voith/Gadgil (Question 3)

Below is the Voith/Gadgil ticket's response to Question 3:

We are members of these organizations because we appreciate the community formed inside these groups. However, our membership in these organizations is not a contradiction to our commitment to inclusiveness of student voice in student government.

The Mission of The Seneca, Inc. is to make the Harvard experience more rewarding for undergraduate women and aims to impact both its membership and the entire Harvard College community. The Seneca hosts open events that develop social and professional relationships, improve access to critical on-campus resources, provide a forum for discussions about women's issues, and strengthen the network of women's organizations on campus. Tara, when she joined the Seneca, knew that her membership was her way of joining a community of women committed to making Harvard an equitable place for all genders. The Seneca, unfortunately, can only do so much. Because of financial constraints, it can only accept so many women into its ranks every year. It is not a permanent response to gender disparity. A women's center, on the other hand, would provide these resources and much more for every woman at Harvard. Tara's membership is not a contradiction - it is an affirmation that she sees gender disparity at Harvard and is willing to do what is necessary to level the field and make sure that every woman can thrive at Harvard. (more in expanded post)

John has consistently been a leading advocate for inclusive campus-wide events, as his involvement in events like the Harvard Yale Pep Rally and Pub Nights shows. John's membership in the Phoenix S.K. Club in no way makes him less committed to planning events for and with all students at Harvard. And if the UC and the administration are to have a proactive relationship with all-male organizations, John, as UC President, will have the perspective he needs to create a fruitful relationship between the College and the Clubs. Such a
relationship is crucial in addressing the student body's concerns about the presence of all-male social clubs on campus.

Our platform indeed seeks to give all students a direct voice in the UC. Our membership in these organizations does not define us or limit us. In fact, it only lends us a greater knowledge of some of the deeper schisms that run between students at Harvard - between Club members and non-members, between women and men, between students of color and non-minority students. These are divides that we acknowledge, and ones we are not afraid to confront in the coming year.

We support a Women's Center without reservation. When a women's center is established, we hope that it will improve understanding of gender disparities on campus and serve to provide an environment where the entire student body can start addressing these concerns.

Please feel free to comment, question, discuss etc. Please limit your posts to 200 words each, though, and remember CC's policy on anonymous comments related to the UC campaigns.


At 9:06 PM, Anonymous Rabia Mir said...

Voith, do you ever think that being a member of a final club and then advocating for reducing gender disparities on campus, may sound like an oxymoron?

At 2:07 AM, Blogger Jersey Slugger said...

That's a huge oxymoron, I feel. You're right, Rabia. It's like doing consulting work for Nike though advocating for international child labor laws.

Don't just copy the Mission Statement of the Seneca as a defense (http://www.theseneca.org/mission.html). How does the Seneca hope to impact the "entire Harvard community"? By giving us pancakes, ice cream, and music? I actually support the Seneca in many respects but this belief that they're helping the "entire Harvard community" just false. They're helping a select group of socially adept women to the disregard of others. Also, if the Seneca is not a "permanent response to gender disparity" then what is it? It was certainly created out of the need for such an organization at Harvard so...is it a temporary response to gender disparity?

If the Harvard administration has any sense (especially in light of Summers' comments earlier this year about women in science), they will never again choose to affiliate themselves with final clubs. At their very root, they are sexist, exclusive, and cocoonish of the social (and, to an extent, financial) elite. Even at a place like Harvard. Being in this environment will inevitably impact Voith and in terms of being able to listen to the "common" Harvard student (which is NOT in such an organization), I feel that it will hurt and not help him listen.

Why must it take a women's center to facilitate discussions on gender disparities? Are we really supposed to wait until 2010 to dicsuss these issues as a campus community? This discussion can be had anywhere (espcially at those uber-posh final clubs that are perpetually accessible and not subject to Harvard space constraints). People just choose not to have such discussions.

In all, your response seems poorly reasoned and cursory. Also, the two-sentence answer to my question about the women's center and how it will impact women's relationships to final clubs was said nothing. You left lots to be written and had nearly 200 more words of space to do it with.

At 1:37 AM, Blogger Kristi Jobson said...

Though I can not speak as a representative of the Voith/Gadgil campaign, I do want to express my frustration at the lack of attention given to The Seneca's Women's Outreach Committee, which was worked so hard over the past years to create freshman women's events, women's leadership events, and speaker events on everything from working on Wall Stree to Women and Global Conflict to Women and Tenure to Harvard. In fact, a week from today, The Seneca is hosting an event bringing eight women in unconventional careers to Harvard. There's a lot more than pancakes to The Seneca.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger Jersey Slugger said...

True. My post was not meant to belittle the Seneca. They are the most open of the social organizations on campus (these include the male final clubs and the women's social clubs) and do significant good. They even have a website that openly provides a lot of information about the organization (www.theseneca.org) as oppose to the fortress that is the Fly's site (www.flyclub.org) or even that of the Isis (www.isisclub.net). However, the lack of attention for the Seneca's Women's Outreach Committee may be due to less pubbing of events. I understand that pubbing the S*HOP may be more important than pubbing said Global Conflict event to the Seneca (one will definitely have more people, one assures tons of food to those who attend, one brings in revenue) but, as George Bush, Wal-Mart, and Nike all have shown, with the proper media campaign you can do almost anything--including kill people, pay people poverty wages, and keep children egregiously employed. Start a Facebook party group and pub outside the Science Center for different types of your events and not just the Red Party so that knowledge of the Seneca comes more full circle and all-encompassing of the organization.


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