Note: I worked as the editor in chief of the Oracle from May to October of 2011; I am not currently affiliated with the newspaper in any official capacity. None of the newspaper staff are aware that I chose to repost this article, nor did I seek their advice or consent. The article in question is re-printed by permission of the author. I also offer some insights here on some things we can take away from the situation.
On Friday, April 20, Oral Roberts University’s student newspaper, the Oracle, released it’s final print edition of the 2011-2012 academic year. That particular edition would have been fairly innocuous were it not for the presence of a particular letter to the editor in the back pages and, most significantly, the university administration’s response to that letter.
The article was penned by Cassie McNaney, a junior biology pre-med student, and titled “It’s way too easy to be a male at ORU.” Cassie had apparently had enough of the (very real) disparity between rule enforcement for males and females at ORU. This reality is actually common knowledge for most people–well, at least for most females. Whether it’s dress code, chapel attendance, curfew, clean room check, or a laundry list of other rules, the simple fact is that while women are generally expected to follow them to the letter, most men see little to no enforcement whatsoever. Bear in mind that buttoning down on rule enforcement is not what I’m advocating–quite the contrary, most of the rules in question are archaic and need to be dropped.
Even so, there’s another issue here and one that is entirely administration’s making. Barely an hour after the paper had been released, university administration put a damper on publishing the article online at the Oracle‘s website to prevent people from having digital access to it. As well, by Monday, newspapers had disappeared from racks and distribution stands around campus. Real classy, ORU.
Since I find censorship to be extremely immature, I’m posting the entire article on my site and I encourage people to share it. I make that encouragement partially because women interested in coming to ORU ought to have an accurate idea of what living on campus is going to be like. But, I make it primarily because the
worst best part about censorship administrative editorial oversight is that people who have meaningful things to say are silenced. is that pesky inconvenient facts that might damage the pristine image the university projects are gracefully scrubbed out.
Censorship might be within the university’s prerogative as a private institution and, believe me, they’ve flexed that muscle more times than this one. Might does not make right, however. I feel like that’s even been preached from the Chapel stage once or twice. Furthermore, this really wasn’t even that big of an issue until the university made it one. As an academic institution, a university should encourage freedom of expression and thought and, if there’s a problem on campus, castigating the student press for giving it coverage is stupid, for lack of a better term. Talk about shooting the messenger. On a campus where the leadership does a lot of talking about “right and wrong,” maybe that will resonate.
So, without further ado, Cassie McNaney…
“As a freshman, I knew what I was getting myself into with the rules here. I wasn’t a fan of them since most seem a little excessive, but figuring out how strict the rules are is usually the first thing people check when they’re about to spend all of their life savings at a Christian university. However, I never expected a completely separate male and female ORU.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love ORU. I am in the Student Ambassador program and can easily talk about the great education, ministries to get involved in and a variety of other great things about the school. There’s a reason I chose to come here. However, the amount of sexism I face on a consistent basis is disappointing to see at such a good university. By sexism, I don’t mean ‘hatred of women.’ I’m referring to typical gender stereotypes, as well as obvious privileges given to one gender over the other. Overall, it seems as though men do not have to abide to [sic] the same rules as women and get away with more.
“During Spring Break, I went to the midnight movie premiere of The Hunger Games. The weather was cold and rainy, and it was about the only thing we could do to get out of the dorms that didn’t involve destroying neurons. All of the women who went to the movie received a $50 fine, but not one guy did. Keep in mind, they live in separate dorms, so it wasn’t one particular person deciding to punish the girls and not the guys. I cannot put into words how offensive it is to receive harsh punishments for coming in late for curfew when most students who had enough money were basking in bikinis, drinking margaritas, and none of the guys received any punishment. It wasn’t even a smaller punishment; it was none at all. It’s as if I was being punished for being born a female.
“I worked the overnight desk shift at EMR for two years because it kept me entertained the whole night. No other dorm seemed to have fireworks go off in the stairwells or welt-covered freshman [sic] come in the front door from a ‘buck buck.’ Guys would come downstairs asking for the broom, later returning with full buckets of glass. I didn’t even want to know.
“One thing that drove me crazy every time I worked was the amount of hissy fits I received from guys who didn’t want me to write their name down on a sheet of paper. I’m talking large guys having full-on hissy fits. I actually had to call security twice over the span of two years for things being thrown at me. It wasn’t surprising to see freshmen getting angry who weren’t used to the rules yet, but when I started receiving this behavior from upperclassmen, and even guys in leadership positions, I knew something was up. It was as if in all three or four years they had never once had their name written down or couldn’t figure out curfew was at 1:30 a.m. after serving as an R.A. for a whole year.
“I was annoyed beyond description. If I came in late half the amount of times these guys did, I would have to see my left kidney to pay for the amount of fines. Instead of coming in earlier or acknowledging the fines, they would just yell and cuss me out. Yes, including chaplains.
“There are many other instances of sexism. It doesn’t just stop at curfew. Men tend to have way more leniency when it comes to chapel services. For example, ever since my freshman year I have had to come to every chapel service (minus the three allowed skips) and sit in the assigned seating arrangements. I cannot get on my cell phone or look at homework without an R.A. telling me to stop. Trust me, I’ve tried. I’ve even come to chapel services sick with fevers and coughing up a lung–clearly disrupting the service. On the other hand, most of my guy friends can sit anywhere they want and/or miss more services because they are tired, hungry or need to study.
“Moreover, men have more leniency when working out.
“I see guys outside all the time with their shirt off, but God forbid if my shoulder blades shown when I’m at the A.C. When I asked why we have the racerback rule, the answer I received is that racerbacks, modest workout shirts specifically designed to not show any sports bra, make the shoulders look ‘too sexy.’
“I have no idea what that even means. There is not a man on the face of the planet who looks at a woman’s shoulder blades and lustfully unless they have some sort of strange fetish.
“Clean room check is usually only seen in the women’s dorms as well. Based on what guys have told me, if any R.A. checks rooms, it’s usually just to quickly look for alcohol.
“It is extremely sexist to have to clean my room before every women’s open dorms so ‘guys won’t see anything messy.’ My boyfriend has seen every bad side of me. If I repeatedly belch in front of him, I highly doubt he’d care if he sees some clothes on the floor.
“I have to vacuum, wash my counters, make my bed and every I would have to do as if I was leaving for Fall or Spring Break. I’m not paying money to receive the Mrs. degree. I’m paying to become a medical doctor. My friends are paying loads of money as well to start their own businesses, teach or become nurses. We simply do not have time to spend two hours every other Wednesday making sure our rooms are cleaned because that’s what ‘godly’ women do. It’s simply a personality trait.
“I hope this can somehow get people to think twice about how women are treated differently here.”