Posted on | April 27, 2013 | 41 Comments
Instapundit calls our attention to the case of a feminist student at the University of Connecticut who saw rape in the school’s revamped logo for its Huskies sports program. And to understand just what this reaction means, you really should read the “open letter” that Carolyn Luby wrote to UConn president Susan Herbst:
Dear President Susan Herbst,
I write to you today as a UConn student, but more specifically as a UConn woman and feminist. I want to first express my admiration for you as a woman who has made it in a “man’s” world, who has faced the odds and done the seemingly unthinkable; become the first woman president at UConn over the course of its 130-year history. You serve as a shining example that even the most challenging of ceilings can be broken, and you speak to the considerable strides women have made over the last 50 years in academia and the professional world. One of the most vivid memories I have of my admiration for your accomplishments was when Gloria Steinem gave you a standing ovation for your successes, along with a full auditorium of students and faculty, during her speech at the 40 year anniversary of the UConn Women’s Center this past fall. It is on behalf of that standing ovation, my feminist foremothers, and the respect that I feel for your success personally that I write this letter of concern and intervention to you today. . . .
This is what we call bad writing. Before we can even begin to engage Carolyn Luby’s argument — such as it is — we must first overcome our revulsion at the ghastly wretchedness of Luby’s prose. And I think that the awfulness of Luby’s writing is more than coincidentally related to the awfulness of her purpose, i.e., to signify feminist solidarity by way of inviting President Herbst to sympathize with Luby’s heinously opportunistic purpose in writing.
Luby wishes to hijack the discussion of the university’s new sports logo in order to humiliate Herbst with a reiteration of criminal accusations made against various UConn athletes. For example, football running back Lyle McCombs was arrested for domestic violence after an argument with his girlfriend, and basketball center Enosch Wolfe was charged with trespassing and other charges — recently dropped — after an incident at a woman’s apartment. Excuse me for inflicting this jargon-laden Carolyn Luby paragraph on readers:
Instead of giving these problematic aspects of male athletic peer culture at UConn a second look or a giving the real face of athletics a true makeover, it appears that the focus of your administration is prioritizing the remodeling of the fictional face of the Husky Logo. Instead of communicating a zero tolerance atmosphere for this kind of behavior, increasing or vocalizing support to violence against women prevention efforts on campus in the face of such events, or increasing support to student run programs that seek to work with athletes on issues of violence as well as academic issues, it would appear that your administration is more interested in fostering consumerism and corporatization than education and community. Another example of this shift in priorities can be seen in the current administrations selection of the new logo — a selection made with no involvement from or consultation with the normal, everyday, non-Olympian student body . . .
Ah, yes — “fostering consumerism and corporatization”: President Herbst’s administration is accused of being pro-capitalist.
Reasonable people can have intelligent debates about the influence of big-time college athletics on university life, and about the extent to which the term “student-athlete” is a cruel fiction when applied to those players of limited academic aptitude whose only ambition is making it to the NFL or NBA. We can also reasonably discuss the degree to which coaches and administrators tolerate occasional thuggish behavior by star players as the necessary cost of having successful athletic programs.
Certainly, UConn isn’t the only school dealing with “Jocks Gone Wild” issues, but “these problematic aspects of male athletic peer culture,” as Luby verbosely describes them, aren’t really what her letter is about. Her letter is about signifying, about displaying the ideological banner of radical feminism and humiliating President Herbst for her insufficient loyalty to that banner: Betraying the Sisterhood.
We see this signifying jive most clearly in the decision of Carolyn Luby to close her letter with an ostentatious literary allusion:
In the words of Audre Lorde, “this letter is in repayment.”
Yes, the radical lesbian poet — who died more than 20 years ago and whose relevance to the problems of University of Connecticut athletics is, well, problematic — must be name-checked by Luby as a symbolic appeal to unity among the intended audience within UConn’s department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies:
Carolyn Luby is a Senior at the University of Connecticut. She is double majoring in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies and Spanish and minoring in Puerto Rican and Latino Studies. She is fluent in Spanish and just returned from a semester abroad in Granada, Spain. In addition to academics Carolyn is also a peer educator for the Violence Against Women Prevention Program . . . She is an active advocate for Women’s Rights and Human Rights and works to promote community involvement and interaction with these issues on both a university level and a national and global level.
This biography of Luby appears at the “Latinas & Media” blog, which is in fact a class project for a course of the same name which is WGSS 3260 in the UConn undergraduate catalog and taught by Cal-Berkeley alumna Diana Rios. What this means is that Carolyn Luby is getting a diploma for ax-grinding — an apostle of angry entitled victimhood, catechized in the gospel of grievance — which is now accorded the status of an academic discipline on many campuses.
Isn’t this a problem that is, in its own way, more pervasive and harmful than occasional outbreaks of thuggery by college athletes?
UPDATE: Linked by Gene Hackett — thanks! — and welcome, Instapundit readers! Y’know, this problem of students getting useless degrees in meaningless subjects while university administrators are mainly concerned with enhancing revenue opportunities — somebody really ought to write a book about that.