Letters to the Editor: Feb. 16 (regarding Feb. 2 issue)
All members of Mount Royal University have a voice in the campus publication. With that in mind, two pages have been designated in this issue for letters because of the overwhelming response following the previous two publications.
We stand by the editorial decisions made by student editors who determine what goes in the newspaper.
We’ve done our best to honour and respect the readership’s feedback by publishing as many letters as possible without having to edit or condense them.
The rest are available at TheReflector.ca.
Although many of these letters contain highly subjective material, it’s the authors’ right to be heard and we fully support their voice.
Anyone interested in talking more about how editorial decisions are made is strongly encouraged to come down to The Reflector office in the Wyckham House basement (Room Z002).
Also, please see the staff editorial on page eight for a more detailed response regarding this matter.
— The Reflector staff
February 7, 2012
To David Docherty, President of Mount Royal University, Judy Collins, MRU Ombudsman, Jeff Goldberg, Dean of Science, and the editors and staff of The Reflector:
The recent publications of January 19th and February 2nd, concerning the cover pages of a white female mouth swallowing a banana, and the degrading nature in which the photo of a white female blonde posing with cariacture clothing cut-outs, or even more abhorrant is the offensive article and vulgarity presented by Vanessa Gillard regarding the sex survey, “An Overview of Love’s Underview,” is grounds to cause an outcry from any person with a sense of moral decency and a shred of respect for women. Let’s first consider the images themselves and then analyze the content therein.
The January 19th image of the blonde “Barbie-like” female is an analogous to the toy doll or paper doll that many young girls grew up playing with. The image conveys a disturbing message echoed throughout society’s representation of women. A woman is an object, she is to be looked at, accessorized, to be dressed up, and judged according to her appearance. The image also infers that beauty belongs to the white and the thin. This is degrading on many levels and offensive to all. Firstly, MRU is promoted as “Building a Culture of Respect,” and “Creating a Universe of Inclusion” as per the MRU Website. In comparison to the articles presented in The Reflector, MRU and The Reflector present both conflicting and opposing messages.
The February 2nd image of a female mouth, swallowing a banana is a deplorable analogy of a woman performing oral sex. How could this image be authorized to go to press and permitted by any peer associated with its production and that it is still readily available throughout campus? Consider that first and foremost, a school is supposed to be safe for everyone, including faculty, staff and students. As a member of the community, the MRU Campus offers daycare programs and continuing education and therefore there are certainly more individuals than merely students attending MRU. How does this image reflect “our” values to them? The image not only objectifies women, but also crudely suggests that our mouths are only useful for one thing… This image is so disturbing to me, it undoes all of the efforts that myself and others are doing to teach society the value of women and as an example, the Teen Mentoring Program I have been associated with for over 12 years…is this what our Teen Mentors have to look to forward when they arrive in post-secondary? It is absolutely shameful.
Ironically, within the 3rd page of the January 19th publication, an interesting article presented by Pamela Di Pinto regarding dating violence, where “trained peer facilitators-who make this project so unique- developed and delivered interactive workshops…topics included healthy relationships, sexual relationships, boundaries and communications and gender and media stereotypes.” This worthwhile intiative and all the efforts made are to be commended. However, in the following publication on February 2nd, Vanessa Gillard’s representation of a sex survey, “An Overview of Love’s Underview” not only demeans the meaning of love but it reinforces the negative media messages and violence. According to Di Pinto’s article “1 out of 3 MRU Students” experience dating violence and therefore Gillard’s article that is read by MRU Students is indirectly supportive of such events. Consider a few of the questions that were asked in the survey: “Would you prefer to pee or poo on someone?” which is an abhorrent form of abuse, or “Where is the strangest place you’ve gotten it on?” with the #1 response being “Uncle’s Bed.” Gillard’s retort to the latter question: “You people need to stop having sex with your uncles.” Perhaps Gillard is unaware that the greatest percentage of sexual abuse of children is perpetrated by fathers, uncles, brothers or male family friends. The dangerous fact that supercedes Gillard’s thoughtless and flippant comment about sex with an uncle as a joke is the casual attitude that inherently lies within society and acceptance as the norm.
One other question posed in the survey, asks the participant which professor they would “want to fool around with” and “where the best place to have sex in the school is and why”. Thankfully, most of the respondants refused to name anyone on the MRU faculty; however three faculty members were singled out. Imagine the potential consequences that may ensue, given the suggestion implied, namely to career, legal and personal lives. The #2 answer on this subject; “it depended on which class [the participant] was failing” which raises concerns regarding teacher/student conduct. Gillards response to the lack of participation on this subject is as troubling as the previous: “you are all a bunch of spoilsports!” The mere fact that such a question was proposed reflects utter disrespect for the faculty and students at MRU.
As a student at MRU and someone whose life mission is to improve society’s values regarding women and minorities, I am ashamed of the Reflector and its misrepresentation of all the wonderful individuals, intellectuals, faculty, students and staff as well as the efforts and iniatives of social groups that work towards this common goal. The staff of The Reflector should be more cognisant and aware of the readership; the content and images that are circulated en masse and staff should consider the repercussions manifested from such messages. This publication should have never gone to print. The fact that so many people involved in its production could accept such content is validation that society and media still have much to learn. Of the opinion of the publishing editor, this social construct of MRU claims to represent inclusion and respect for all, refraining from publishing anything deemed offensive. How are the images and content noted above not considered offensive?
It is dangerous to assume this subject trivial, even more heinous to consider it “casual fun” or “just a joke.” Life proves to us that we can no longer be passive, silent and submissive. We must question, challenge and create dialogue and understanding if we desire to better ourselves and our world around us. I urge everyone to convey their opinions on this and I look forward to improving the representative messages presented in The Reflector.
Fourth-year student, MRU
I am writing to express my disappointment in the cover photograph and unsavoury article “An overview of love’s under view” by ‘sex columnist’ Vanessa Gillard in the latest issue of The Reflector.
I find it extremely distasteful in both language and content. I would expect to find such a survey/article in an explicit pornographic magazine, not in a paper reflecting and representing the student body of an educational institution.
I don’t object to a ‘sex column’, as long as the material is presented respectfully and responsibly.
In my opinion, this inappropriate article demonstrates a gross lack of judgement not only by the author, but also the editor for allowing such a disparaging and contemptuous article to be included in this publication.
Fourth-year student, MRU
To Whom it May Concern,
I would like to express my concern and distaste in regards to an article called “An Overview of Love’s Under View” written by Vanessa Gillard which was published in this months edition of “The Reflector” student newspaper.
Although this newspaper is a student newspaper and written for students of Mount Royal University, the language contained within this article is completely innapropriate especially in an educational setting. Comments such as “pussies, liars, cocky casanovas”, “Way to go, sluts!”, “poking someone in the eye with shit” are innappropriate in any news article let alone an article written by students within the University. Whether the goal of this article was to poke fun at Valentine’s day in general or the topic of sex in general, the point is, these topics are should not bejoked about.
My second concern which relates to this specific article is the type of questions asked in this survey. I find that questions such as “What age did you lose your v-card?”, “If you could fool around with a professor who would it be and why?”, “Would you prefer to poo or pee on someone” and “Where’s the best place to have sex in the school and why?” are offensive in nature especially as a couple of the questions make mention of specific professors on campus. In addition to this, the question stating “where is the strangest place you’ve gotten it on?” makes reference to “Uncle’s bed”. This is an utterly appalling answer as there may be students who have been sexually abused or molested by a family member.
In my opinion, no matter what your beliefs may be, content like this should, under no circumstances, be put into a University school newspaper. It is offensive and it is not a topic that should be taken lightly.
Further, the fact that specific professors are mentioned in this article in the manner that this article is written, has the potential to undermine the professional relationships that professors maintain with their students. Are the professors aware that their names are being mentioned in this way? I am reluctant to say yes that they are aware of this. I am concerned that professors may believe that this is how their students perceive them when in reality, this is not the case.
In concluding, although the intent of the Reflector may be to provide students with entertaining material in addition to educational content, I do not believe this type of material is the slightest bit laughable and I’m ashamed that content like this is written within an educational setting in which I so highly respect.
The most disturbing aspect of this situation is the fact that this newspaper is distributed beyond the confines of the school. I have seen numerous places outside the school and in the community where this paper is available. To think that parents or older children and adolescents may pick up this paper and read articles such as the one written by Gillard – I can only imagine what they are thinking? Content related to sex education is important but there is a certain way to make a point and this is not the way to do so.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to acknowledge my concern and sincerely hope that this situation is rectified quickly.
Fourth-year student, MRU
To Whom this may concern:
After viewing your recent horrid and disgusting article by a so-called sex columnist Vanessa Gilliard and viewing your subjective images of women in a degrading manner within your newspaper, one can only wonder if we are moving forward as a society and where in fact…that specific destination might be.
Gillard’s offensive article might be best suited for a pornographic publication, however they might even be aware that her skill as a ‘writer’ might be limited to toilet humour at best.
In this day and age, making light of sexual abuse or vulgar sexual acts in any form is no longer acceptable..surely there is a conscience readily available amongst the talented people within this paper and amongst the faculty and students, to be able to recognize what is acceptable and what is not?
This form of writing cannot be mistaken as a ‘contemporary view’, I doubt that the greater student body (if polled) would hold this view…and if so, we should all be very concerned for our future if our leaders of tomorrow choose to associate themselves with such garbage.
The mere fact this paper is readily available to the surrounding community is cause for great concern and if in fact, if representative of the standards of character and morale of MRU, than any prospective student planning to attend in the future may want to steer far clear!!
Please don’t hide behind the veil of ‘free speech’, this is certainly far from an example as such. In comparison, your article offends as much as the ‘black face’ Mcgill University fiasco in Montreal sometime ago, where students thought it ‘funny’ to dress up and mimic in horribly bad taste (if you haven’t heard about it yet, LOOK IT UP).
In the 21st century, surely we are better than this and surely you can use your priveledged opportunity within this platform to write and influence the young minds you claim to represent, in a more honorable effort.
— Michel L. Limoges
This email comes to you after speaking with Jenny Lamages and being made aware of the recent article published in the Reflector. I personally have never read an issue of the paper before, and hadn’t heard of the atrocities being published in this months issue until Jenny brought it to my attention. Viewing the front page image was enough to appall and severely offend me as a woman, and only worried me about what I was about to read. The article published by Vanessa Gillard absolutely blew me away.
I know Mount Royal as a school that is diverse, accepting and respectful, and to me this article threw that all away. I could not believe how disrespectful the piece was to women, and that anything regarding “which professor [a person] would want to sleep with” would be allowed to run in a school paper. Not only are the faculty going to read this piece, but there is a large amount of people that participate in programs at the school as well as bring their children to the school. For that kind of content to be available to the public to read is ridiculous. It does not represent this school whatsoever.
I hope that this letter gives you some feedback on the increasing rage going around the school regarding this months reflector.
Third-year student, MRU
To whom it may concern,
I write this letter to express my disgust with the vulgar February edition of The Reflector. This Mount Royal University publication has issued a paper that contains an inappropriate sexually suggestive cover page and a insensitive, inappropriate, and disrespectful article titled “An Overview of Love’s Underview”. This publication is whether the authors realize or not a representation of the students, staff, and culture of Mount Royal University. As a student I do not feel morally comfortable having images and articles such as the one’s described represent myself or the university. Personally I feel strongly about the preservation of the freedom of speech and media; however I understand that positions of representation must be considered and respected. This publication disregards the respect of Mount Royal as a whole as it blatantly disregards how it is a representation of all elements of Mount Royal. As a student it is unnerving to think of how my institution will be viewed when the representative publications are filled with such materiel. The affects of this paper must be considered and the freedom of speech and media argument holds no bounds as it has infringed on the well being of other individuals.
To Whom it May Concern:
It is absolutely appalling that our own school is creating an unsafe environment for women. In the last two publications of the Reflector there have been crude sexual and sexist references. The cover of the January issue included a female cut out with clothes to dress her, like a Barbie doll. The February issue’s cover was a woman sucking a banana off like a penis. For a school that is trying to revolutionize the way post-secondary education is received it is surprising and upsetting to see women being represented in such a demeaning manner. The media has a huge influence on everyone, especially young girls and women. Since our school is in close proximity to junior high and high schools, as well as the halls filled with children for the day care, or music program are being exposed to trash like this. Is this the image we want Mount Royal to have? That women are Barbie dolls who are to be used as sexual objects? Are blowjobs and Barbies the new face of Mount Royal University? Or is that merely the way the institution likes to see women?
The kids who are enrolled in the journalism program should be taught about integrity, and real reporting. Although the author should have had more self respect for herself, women, and the school’s image it is ultimately the teachers/supervisors responsibility to ensure that their students are headed in the right direction. IF the teachers/supervisors actually believe that this is good journalism or even writing for that matter I am personally ashamed for being associated with this school. Also if this is the level of students that the journalism program is producing either the students need to be more carefully considered before admittance, the teachers need to be replaced, or the program needs to be dissolved.
Freedom of Speech is important, however the entire student bodies safety comes above that. It was negligent for the supervisor of this program to even allow this issue to go to print. Trashy articles should be left out of the public newspaper ESPECIALLY since there was absolutely no warning of sexual content (although the cover would lead me to believe I would be browsing through a Penthouse).
Typically the paper is 50% sports reporting, and that would be okay if it was balanced with something that is worthwhile and has some depth.
However, since it is paired with this tabloid garbage the school is portrayed as being comprised of athletes and whores. Instead of stooping to the level of tabloid newspapers with their crude or lack thereof actual reporting, the school should be teaching these kids what real reporters do, reporting real issues, and real news. Tabloids are the lowest form of journalism. Unfortunately the media is an incredibly powerful tool, and the vast majority of the population will believe whatever the media spits out. We are putting our trust in these people, in charge of controlling media content, and I thought that the journalism program would emphasize the delicate nature of this power that the media holds over society instead of feeding the fire and encouraging this disgusting form of art.I am a female student in the Bachelor of Health Sciences and an NSERC recipient. Before this form of abuse I absolutely loved Mount Royal
University and would have loved to have worked here after the rest of my studies. I hope that this abuse of power comes to an end and that disciplinary action be taken against those responsible for this sexual harassment. I used to be very proud to have been the product of such a seemingly well-rounded university however I now feel ashamed to be linked to this school and wish I had started my academic career elsewhere.
This institution should be celebrating the accomplishments that the women of Mount Royal have arisen to instead of making us feel like we should just spread our legs and take it, or perhaps defecate or urinate on each other. And especially for those of us who have been sexually abused this is all very overwhelming and upsetting.
Thank you Mount Royal for reminding me that the world hasn’t changed, that women don’t deserve respect and for letting me know that kids are having “sex” (rape) in the their Uncle’s bed, and reminding me how this institution sees women: A mannequin with various orifices’.
Tara C. Dumont
Mount Royal University is a terrific institution with excellent instruction in small classroom settings, a healthy sports program, a rapidly growing number of accredited undergraduate degrees, numerous applied degree and certificate programs and a rapidly growing centre for scientific research and student involvement. Additionally the staff and faculty have been working exceptionally hard to change the public perception of Mount Royal from a local college to that of a beacon of what a modern university should be. Why then is the school content to allow the Reflector, a school endorsed newspaper which is intended to be informative, inclusive and representative of the university, to produce issues filled with cheap and tawdry filler that would otherwise only be of acceptable journalistic caliber for the National Enquirer or at best a column for Cosmo or another equally vapid publication?
All of the hard work that has been done to uplift this institution is immediately crushed by what this paper has become. The previous two issues alone, January and February of 2012, in numerous ways utterly objectify and degrade women, belittle the academic achievements of the school and produce an excess of empty tabloid fodder. The February columns border on printing libel as they simultaneously associate the names of instructors with sexual scandal, chide those who have a shred of decency while refusing to answer inappropriate and dangerous questions such as “What MRU professor would you most like to hook up with?” The cover photograph alone of a woman simulating oral sex on a banana should never have gone to print. Is this truly the image the Reflector wishes to portray for our University? If so, is it not even more troubling that Mount Royal students hold this view of our institution? And where is the oversight that would keep such mindless drivel and questionable content from the printer?
Racial and sexist stereotypes should be being bred out of the media starting with the students. How is it that the journalism certificate, a mere two year program that falls woefully short of actually educating its students, includes no courses involving sensitivity to these issues or even further arts and science credits which may allow for more open, insightful and understanding journalism.
Journalism as a field is at a crossroads. The media flocks to pleasing the lowest common denominator, shock journalism and mindless filler to distract from pressing issues. And now the Reflector, which one would hope would be full of idealistic and ambitious young journalists wishing to change this, has instead joined the ranks.
Congratulations Reflector. Stand proud in the knowledge you are now the worst of the worst. You have managed to overshoot the lowest common denominator and produce pure unadulterated garbage journalism which in turn has embarrassed the entire school. I hope it was worth it to make a few cheap sex jokes at the expense of women and human decency.
– Brent Middleton
Bachelor of Health Sciences, 4th Year
I am writing this email to express my disappointment at the content of one of your recent articles entitled “An Overview of Love’s Underview” that was brought to my attention by one of my 4th year students. I recognize the concept of ‘freedom of press’ but I would argue that when an article includes a discussion on sexual relationships with faculty and condones or makes light of child abuse, that ‘freedom’ no longer applies.
I am a faculty member at Mt Royal University and I have worked at numerous universities across Canada and in the US. I came to this University because I was drawn to the culture of respect. To me, that includes respect for students and their voice, but also respect by students for faculty and staff. The implication that professors would i) have sex with their students, and ii) change a students grade in exchange for sex is not only disrespectful, it would be cause for dismissal. Making light of this topic ignores that it is a very real situation in some post-secondary institutions and also undermines the effect it has on everyone involved.
This week I passed a billboard in the hallways on relationships and applauded the efforts made by numerous individuals at Mt Royal to support and promote healthy living. Unfortunately, this was followed by your article with its quip about having sex in your Uncle’s bed. I am disgusted that anyone could find incest or child abuse amusing in any way.
All members of the Mt Royal community have a responsibility for their actions and their words, including students that write for school newspaper.
Dr. Carol Armstrong,
Dept of Chemical and Biological Science
To Whom This May Concern,
We would like to express our disappointment with an article published by The Reflector, concerning an article written by Vanessa Gillard, sex columnist, titled “An overview of love’s under view”. We understand that a sex columnist needs to write about sex and the need to push the limits to get individuals to be more open about their sexuality but as a students to this school, we are very disappointed and concerned about the message being sent about what Mount Royal students represent. Since this paper is being read throughout the community and also the school’s website it portrays a view that only exists for a only a small number of students since we’re sure there were many that had not even heard of this survey.
The survey itself is derogatory and offensive peppered with words like “pussies” and “sluts”. The voice of the article gave a sense of derision and disrespect for the choices of others and their situations. The questions in the article that have drawn a sense a revulsion are particularly the average age that people lose their “v-card”, sex positions that you are most curious about and why, what professor you want to sleep with, the best place to have sex at school, the strangest place that you have gotten it on, the pooing or peeing on someone and the morning after breath. For example, the “v-card” comments suggested that we, as a community, should be having sex at an earlier age in order to be more creative, which would send the wrong message to not only those that are looking at this school to attend here but also to schools that review our schools reputation for the integrity of the students and perhaps even to the external public such as the high school students that are often at Wyckham for lunch.Finally the paper isn’t professional in its view and it reflects an uneducated view of the whole community of Mount Royal. Since this is a review of the choices of those of Mount Royal students, the columnists’ comments further degrades the opinions of those students that did the survey created by the columnist.As science students, we are appalled at her statement of a “super scientific survey” and the lack of any scientific inclination within the paper.
If possible, we would like to have the article retracted from the paper and an apology from the editor.
Thank you for your time,
–Lambrini Michael and Melissa Quan
I was very disappointed int the reflector article “An overview of loves underview”. I can’t believe that not only did some one write the stupid dribble but someone also approved it for publication. University is for higher learning and higher thought, not tabloidesque tactics to get attention. Who in their right mind would think a woman with a banana down her throat would be in any way an appropriate image, especially with Kids frequenting the school?!? Who thinks that incest or sexual abuse by a family member is a joke?!? I guarantee you there are students at this school who have been victimized: http://www.safekidsbc.ca/statistics.htm
University of Victoria’s Sexual Assault Centre*** posts the following childhood sexual abuse statistics:
– 1 in 3 females and 1 in 6 males in Canada experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18.
– 80% of all child abusers are the father, foster father, stepfather or another relative or close family friend of the victim.
– Incestuous relationships last 7 years on average
-75% of mothers are not aware of the incest in their family
– 60- 80% of offenders in a study of imprisoned rapists had been molested as children
– 80% of prostitutes and juvenile delinquents, in another study, were sexually abused as children.
How is that in any way funny?!? Is consorting with faculty members a funny thing? How about public sex? Is this the kind of image the school wants to have? “We polled our students and we didn’t really concern ourselves with which programs were most valuable to our students or how they feel about the quality of instruction but we can give you a top ten for places to “get it on” on campus and which instructors are most “do able””
I know that fourteen students were written up for academic misconduct last semester in one class, I hope the university will treat this offense to its image just as seriously. I am expecting a public apology and that restructuring of The Reflector’s policies will be changed including both the author and the editor that approved the article will be dismissed from participating in further publications.
The university in allowing its paper to publish this article has made a statement: that objectification of women is O.K., and that sexual liaisons with faculty and family members are a joke. That’s where it stands right now. If the school wants to rectify this it’s going to have to make a strong statement to the contrary. Will you brush this off or will you stand up for the image of this school? The women who study here? How about all the students attending who have been sexually victimized and remain silent? Will you stand up for them? I will be interested to see how you respond.
– Louchlyn Fraser
The Reflector is a separately-incorporated Society housed in Wyckham House as a tenant of SAMRU only. As a Board member, I am not involved in the Reflector’s content but feel the need to respond based on the overwhelming amount of complaints coming from SAMRU’s membership. Intentional or not, the commentary published in Vanessa Gillard’s sex column in the February 2nd edition is offensive to some students as expressed in written concern to the Reflector. The Reflector has heard my recommendation to retract the piece, make an apology to those offended and consider the student’s feedback when making future content decisions. The Students’ Association fosters a community of respect, integrity and diversity on campus and as such, expect that enterprises that collect mandatory fees from the student body will live up to these principles as well.
— Michelle Dennis
VP External, SAMRU
I am writing to you to loudly voice my disapproval of the content of the article by Vanessa Gillard called “An overview of Love’s under view”. Hopefully, students, such as myself at Mount Royal University are interested in articles with more sophisticated subject matter. I am sure that this would take more time and effort for the author to come up with respectable content, but should be strongly encouraged to do so. Perhaps if this is too difficult a task for her she could find a different way to occupy her time. The cover photo was also offensive, juvenile and tasteless. These items don’t fit in at any University. I cannot imagine any situation that these items could possibly be appropriate. Ms. Gillard, edit yourself!
Social work student, MRU
Staff of the Reflector,
After reading the current publication of the Reflector, I was incredibly disappointed with how it reflected upon the student population. The cover was distasteful and in no way relevant to the issue as a whole. The inside pages proved to be no better. In attempt to defend its previous article regarding pregnant women and their “baby bumps” it discussed how we all have differing senses of humour. I couldn’t agree more, because I just don’t get what is funny about that previous article or frankly, this current issue.
The sex columnist, who often writes well thought out articles, really missed the mark this time. I am not suggesting that freedom of speech being limited but I do not want to personally contribute to articles that are written as blog posts that encourage students to have sex for the sake of having sex. As a sex columnist, I think she should know better the risks that come with casual sex, both physical and emotional and spend her article on encouraging her fellow students to be safe. We should applaud students for choosing abstinence rather than berating them for being uncool.
I do not personally want my funds being collected by SAMRU simply to be passed onto the Reflector unless there is some measure to ensure that they are publishing articles that have some journalistic relevance. I’m not sure how a survey that asks students which mythical creature they would rather have sex with comes anywhere close to being relevant to the student population, who ultimately the Reflector is accountable too. It is my hope that the Reflector will realize that it represents all the students who attend Mount Royal and its members will ensure that its members in the future write articles that serve a purpose.
Bachelor of Science Student
An open letter to the MRU community regarding The Reflector: We, the Women’s Study faculty at MRU, are writing to express our concern about the February 2 issue of
First is the issue of the cover. This is a photo of a close up of (presumably) a woman’s mouth, the lips wrapped around the banana, an image clearly meant to represent a woman performing oral sex on a man. This is an objectifying image, reducing a woman to one body part, and then reducing that particular body part to one particular use. It is the kind of objectifying image of women that we are surrounded by; certainly there is no shortage of images like this in the mass media. However, we find it a disrespectful and inappropriate image, and believe this sexist image has no place in a community that respects women.
Second is the issue of Vanessa Gillard’s discussion of a sex survey she carried out amongst the MRU population. We do not know whether Gillard actually carried out the survey and received the responses she quotes in the article, and in fact that is irrelevant. What concerns us is the content of the article. Many of the questions range from vulgar and crude (where have you had sex on the MRU campus, would you rather someone pee or poop on you during sex) to the downright horrifying discussion following the question of ‘where is the strangest place you’ve gotten it on?’. Supposedly one respondent said ‘uncle’s bed,’ to which Gillard replied: “You people need to stop having sex with your uncles.” Is this an attempt at humor? Certainly sexual abuse by family members, typically male family members abusing younger and more vulnerable female family members, impacts a significant number of people in our society, including MRU students. In light of this, we find Gillard’s comment problematic.
The last issue we want to raise about Gillard’s article is her question about which professor you would “want to fool around with.” This is another offensive statement because it trivializes the very real power dynamics between instructors and students, and thus also trivializes the absolute need for precise and fixed boundaries that do not allow for sexual intimacy between them. To clarify, Gillard and the editors of The Reflector do not seem to be aware of the particular history of this issue – namely, the trauma experienced by many, mostly female students who were coerced into sexual activity by their male professors. At the same time, this survey question trivializes and all but erases the fact that this practice is no longer acceptable on any campus because caring women and men professors stood with victimized students to make change.
By stating these concerns, we are not indicating opposition to issues around sexuality being discussed in public forums on campus. We were heartened by The Reflector’s discussion of dating violence that appeared in the January 19 issue, written by Pamela Di Pinto. We encourage similar discussions around a variety of topics connected to sexuality: the need for safe sex practices, the warning signs of abuse in personal relationships, the healthiest birth control options available, how to navigate LGBT and/or cross- racial relationships in a non-supportive environment.
The Reflector is one part of our MRU community. As teachers within the Women’s Studies program at MRU, we take very seriously – and deeply appreciate – the school’s commitment to respect for all members of the MRU community. We work hard to ensure an inclusive, welcoming, affirming classroom environment for all students, regardless of gender, race, class, disability/ability, sexuality, culture, and/or age. We would like to feel that the student newspaper is working to ensure the same thing. As Women’s Studies professors, we hear about the struggles that our students face, both at school and in the wider community, and we see that sexism is alive and well in our world today. We want a school environment that refuses to go along with that sexism; we want a school newspaper that does its best to affirm all of our students.
Writers of letters such as this are often charged with advocating censorship. In the interests of clarity, we will close this letter by stating the reasons for writing this letter. First, we believe it is important to share concerns about our school newspaper – and any other aspects of school life – in open and respectful ways. Second, we hope to encourage others to share their opinions and concerns about our school newspaper. Third, we want to see honest and open discussion about sexism and other important social issues on our campus, honest and open discussion about the responsibilities of a truly representative school newspaper, and honest and open discussion about how to best create a climate of fairness, respect, and inclusion at our school.
Kimberly A. Williams
I hope the wonderful R team is well. I really enjoy reading the Reflector and have read almost every issue since i joined MRU. I wanted to bring to your attention the Sex Survey that was published in the Feb edition of newspaper. It was really tasteless,overall i felt, and also the comment about the uncle was just a little too much. I think the sex counsellor needs to know a little more about what behaviors and attitudes should be encouraged for a healthy sex life. In talking to others, many have found it offensive, since pedophillia is no joke. I also thought the cover was very sexist in how the woman has a phallic object in her mouth. Surely we can use more healthy and interesting images to get students to pick up a copy and start reading.
Nimra Amjad Archer
In support of Jenny Limoges, I disagree with what the article is saying.
Our previous Dean is raising an issue about the cover of the Feb. 2 issue of the Reflector. I gather she has cc’d everyone in voicing her discontent. , since she is mentioned in the issue because she got the candidacy for the PC party in
some Calgary riding.
I have always respected the Reflector and the work of the many people involved, so I find it hard to believe that you would suddenly put in content that represents “Deplorable Content in the Reflector” or a “sexually suggestive cover page”.
To the Editor,
Re: Language use and freedom of expression
We read you editorial of the February 2 issue of The Reflector and thought as a stakeholder in the community and advertiser in your paper we should help point out a few items that is worth noting and addressing with maturity.
While jokes should be encouraged and shared in any community (MRU students community inclusive), there is a line that must be drawn between jokes and expressions that could lead to bullying or demeaning other people. An example of throwing banana at someone of ‘black’ colour/race could be intended as a joke but it also equates him/her to an ape and we don’t believe that The Reflector’s editorial board will support or stand for acts that represents bullying, racism, objectification of women, abuse of children nor promotion of terrorism and crime. As such, it may not be appropriate for a newspaper representing students of highest intellectual capability in the society to use the excuse of freedom of speech to propagate and/or encourage societal ills.
In the real world, journalists see themselves as role models and diligently communicate their message without been crude nor promoting societal ills. As a very resent example, CNN suspended a contributor because of comments he made which suggested that gay people should be bullied (even though he was supposedly joking).
We would want to suggest that you adopt a mission statement or objective and make all commentaries/articles be in alignment with that. You may want to widen your pool of writers and set guidelines for the editorial board on what type of articles you will carry and what ethics of journalism you will operate under. The Reflector must see itself as an institution that standards for respect, equality and protection of all people.
You should not take the influence that The Reflector has on the MRU community lightly, and the community includes minors who are part of the daycare program, boys and girls choir to mention a few.
We are more than willing to have further discussions with you on making The Reflector a better news media that it can very well be.
Thanks and God bless
I am totally in support of “free speech and freedom of the press” but as an educated adult I do not understand what message The Reflector is sending when it prints images like those in the latest edition of the newspaper. These are images I would expect to see in a tabloid newspaper, not in a university newspaper. These images and the message sent are not in keeping with a university that my tax dollars are supporting. It’s not about freedom to express one’s views, it’s about doing what is right.
So, I have to ask, “What is the point?”
Why aren’t you taking the opportunity to fill your newspaper with images and stories of women who are making a positive difference in this community and in Alberta? Graduates of Mt. Royal, some of whom are women, are leaders in this community. Many give willingly of their time to volunteer as positive role models to youth, many are working as leaders in business. Many women who are currently studying at Mt. Royal are already involved in the community. There are so many positive stories that you could tell, yet you choose to fill space with derogatory words and disgusting pictures. Why can’t you focus on men and women who are continually making responsible decisions at Mt. Royal and in the community? These are the roles that women are playing in the community and the world; the images that sell tabloid newspapers and magazines do not send this message. You have the opportunity to highlight the many accomplishments of women at the university and in the community. Why are you choosing to send the wrong message to your readers? What is the point?
I hope that I never see anything like this again in a Mt. Royal publication.
DeeAnne S. Vonde, Ph.D.
Adjunct instructor, Gongaza University
To whom it way concern,
The other day I was asked to read a column from the Mount Royal University paper, The Reflector. I have never really read this paper until now. The column was entitled Sex Column: An overview of love’s underview. After reading it I was appalled and embarrassed to be a part of a University that would let their student body, both produce and read this kind of material. This is NOT appropriate University level content. Asking in which way would you prefer to defecate on someone or asking which professor you’d rather sleep with? This just confirms what the other schools say about Mount Royal University; that we should not be taken serious, we may have the status of a university, but we don’t deserve it etc. All the talk that I’ve heard suggests the directors are trying to make this newly formed university one of the more prestigious ones in Canada. This is definitely not a step in the right direction.
I would like to think that any journalism that takes place in a post secondary institution prepares a writer for their future career. How does the question “Where is the strangest place you’ve gotten it on?” even come close to appropriate content for a university, especially when one of the answers is “uncles bed”. This comment could easily be suggesting rape and that if everyone is doing it, then it must be ok. The number of rapes and unreported rapes are astounding and considering that a good portion of those rapes occurs from family members or friends of family members, this is just discussing!!! I am all for freedom of speech and find nothing wrong with it, but it must NOT be at someone else’s expense, and this paper is suggesting many things, one of which is that it’s ok to rape. I am also pro sex talk and sex information, but this is defiantly not that.
Again, I am disgusted with the lack of respect for the student body at large, not to mention that this paper is made available to the surrounding community. What message are we sending? Rise to the level of excellence that the University is trying to achieve!
Fourth year BHSc
MRU Chemical and Biological Student Society Volunteer Coordinator
February 10, 2012
To David Docherty, President of Mount Royal University, Judy Collins, MRU Ombudsman, Jeff Goldberg, Dean of Science, and the Editors and staff of The Reflector:
This letter is with the purpose of addressing the very worrisome and offensive material published in the two most recent editions of Mount Royal University’s newspaper: The Reflector which was brought to my attention by my peers. When I examined the content of the paper I felt humiliated and embarrassed . Firstly, because The Reflector is, or should be, representative of the thoughts of all students on campus, but I highly doubt everyone in Mount Royal University holds such ignorant, offensive, and inappropriate outlooks of women and sex.
In the January 19, 2012 issue of the newspaper, illustrates the objectification of women and how they are judged according to their looks. In my opinion this disrespectful and does not depict a welcoming and comfortable environment nor does it follow Mount Royal University’s principles.
To make matters worse, the February 2nd, 2012 issue has as its cover the picture of a female mouth swallowing a banana, which is an insulting and degrading image to anyone, not just women, with a sense of dignity and decency. This type of content, in my view, is not the type that should make cover pages in the newspaper of an intellectual community like Mount Royal University because unfortunately the distribution of this newspaper is not limited to students and faculty but also to children and parents that are involved in extracurricular activities offered on campus.
Moreover, in the same publication, Vanessa Gillard’s representation of a sex survey asked, among others, the following questions: “Would you prefer to pee or poo on someone?”,“Where is the strangest place you’ve gotten it on?” Again, content that is unfit of a university newspaper. The survey also asked which professor students would want to food around with, which also violates the integrity of academic relationships.
As a student at MRU and someone who values diversity, decency and integrity, I am ashamed of the Reflector and the way in which it has insulted all individuals, intellectuals, faculty, students and staff as well as the efforts and initiatives of social groups that have come across this newspaper. The staff of The Reflector should be more considerate and aware of the audience it’s intended for, and the possible repercussions from such publications.
Isameli Bernal Contreras
Fourth-Year Student, MRU
First off I would like address my deepest and alarming concerns toward what people are reading and writing on the reflector. From what I understand, it is a news letter written by freedom of press for the students by the students, and it is pretty scary what the future of our city is reading and writing and even worse being allowed to be distributed on campus of MRU and throughout the community. It’s is one thing if it educates and informs family and students of our community about new sports and educated topics, instead to read unethical and offensive garbage that reflects disturbing stories about sex on campus and a picture of a woman with a banana down her throat is not what I call journalism, and the crazy thing is, when finally someone stood up to approach this matter about the paper, a damage control attempt to all the students making excuses and spreading the word stating that it is freedom of press, very tasteless. Last but certainly not the least, it is appalling how the alumni, teachers and staff of MRU allows this to be a representation of their school and community.
Steve J Hodge
Concerned member of the MRU community
Loved the cover for your last issue. Totally thought that you guys were running a stereotypical, boring as hell cover for the “sex issue.” Yawn.
Then I take a look at Page 2 and, welp.
Way to play with reader expectations and cultural/gender roles.
Found the survey to be a little lacklustre, though. The number of people who’d be into cophrophagia has to be ridiculously low. I’m guessing that the intention was to not do a vanilla, by the numbers ‘sex survey’, but you wouldn’t it have made more sense to dip into strawberry rather than go balls deep into Rocky Road?
No reason to refer to readers as “sluts”, either, even if it’s being done in a cheeky way. You don’t get people being comfortable talking about sex by using terms that are commonly used to degrade/put down sexual promiscuity.
Sidenote: sorry for not getting back to your earlier response re: the Hub. For some reason it went to my Spam folder and I didn’t see it until well after the fact.
Journalism Certificate Student
Editor-in-Chief of the Calgary Journal
I am writing you to express my opinions on the article written by Vanessa Gillard “Sex Survey: An Overview of Loves Underview”. This article lacked maturity and was quite offensive. This is not an image that should be associated with Mount Royal University, as it could be detrimental to the image of students, professors and other faculty.
The idea of a “sex survey” within the paper is not the issue, as it is very common within other papers and magazines especially when Valentine’s Day approaches. The content of the survey lacked maturity and was not tastefully done, as many parts of it were disturbing and disgusting. If this was a major publication I highly doubt that this would have been published.
It seems to me that the author, Vanessa Gillard, just wanted to get some undeserving attention, which is now the case as this article is being brought to the attention of others. Yes, most authors want attention brought to their articles, but it shouldn’t be for the poor writing skills, offensive statements and name calling displayed in the February 2nd article. I am not stating that Gillard cannot express her opinion; my point is that it shouldn’t be expressed in a way that is disrespectful to others. This shouldn’t be the type of attention desired and The Reflector and the SAMRU should reconsider who they hire to portray the image of the student body at Mount Royal University.
Hopefully in the future, the image of Mount Royal’s student body isn’t portrayed in this way. Articles should be getting attention for the quality of the writing, quality of information presented and the positive things occurring within and outside of the Mount Royal community, not for the immaturity displayed in articles written by Vanessa Gillard.
To whom it may concern:
I am writing to express my objection to the cover image of the February 2nd Reflector newspaper and the article titled, “An overview of love’s underview.” While I do respect the right of free expression and the role of the press, I do feel that the lines of what is acceptable in any newspaper have been crossed.
Firstly, the cover image, which appears to be a woman attempting to swallow a banana, is clearly imitative of the woman performing fellatio. I assume that the image is an attempt at tongue-in-cheek humour. Indeed, the inside photo of a man, wearing lipstick, holding a banana implies that the model was in fact not a woman. I also understand that this second image may be present to “let the reader in on the joke.” However, I would hope that the editors would consider with more care of where this newspaper is, and that, like it or not, the Reflector also reflects on the entire University. These papers are available to the public, including children of all ages. I question the desire of the editorial board to avoid being “mundane, neutral or balanced” by pursuing images which promote the objectification of women. Satire and humour do have roles to play in public dialogue. I fail to see any satire in this image; indeed, I struggle to find any value in this image other than “shock.” I’m left with the sense that the paper is trying to be provocative, simply for provocation’s sake. But it is at a a cost. Albeit, unintentional, this kind of image promotes the objectification of women, and a rape culture. The second image of a male wearing lipstick, holding the banana implies, that it is acceptable, since it is intended as humour. This argument is equivalent to putting lipstick on a pig.
Secondly, the “sex” column, while merely offensive for the most part, I argue crosses a line when specific faculty members are mentioned by name. I hope that the aforementioned faculty gave their consent to have their names published, I do not know if this is the case as the reader. I am troubled that the idea of sexual relations between faculty and students could be thought of as a topic for humour, no matter how edgy. The article crosses another line regarding sexual violence. For example, children are sexually abused by family members. Indeed, when children have been sexually abused, it is most often a close family member, like an Uncle. The attempt at humour of students “having sex with their uncles” makes
light of this very real and very grievous harm in our society. It is worth noting that the columnist herself acknowledges that few students were even willing to participate in this “survey”. One would have hoped that this fact alone should have sent a message to both the columnist and the paper that perhaps the article needed to be seriously revised.
Is it ironic that these images and this article would appear in the same issue of an editorial that defends the “…right to free expression, especially pertaining to comedy”?
I hope that the Ombudsboard will look into this matter carefully and consider whether or not, as I claim, that the Reflector, by printing this kind of material, has lost their direction. I hope that the editorial board will be able to once again, find the right balance between thoughtful, provocative, “edgy,” discourse, against the simply offensive and harmful kind of material we as members of the University community were exposed to in this issue.
I look forward to your reply in this matter.
Chemical and Biological Sciences
Mount Royal University
Dear Ms. Collins,
I am writing to you to raise a complaint about the recent sex survey article that was published in the current Reflector newspaper. I am appolled at the fact that this was allowed to be published. Not only was it making a joke out of some very serious issues around the topic of sex but makes a bad impression of the Mount Royal University Community as a whole, faculty and students alike. The Mount Royal Community is working hard to bring about a respectful community through many different activities and groups such as the pride centre, sustainability centre, and the I am Human project. This is hindering the positive steps towards being about a respectful community, especially when we look at the diversity that makes up our campus and the amount of children and families that are on campus for varying activities during the week. I feel ashamed and embarrassed for our campus and am very frustrated that a question about which faculty member people would rather be involved very insulting. I do not feel that this article represents the Mount Royal community or student body.
Third Year Bachelor of Science Major in Health Science Student
Dear Reflector Staff,
On February 9th 2012, I was disappointed to have stumbled upon your valentine’s day edition. I have been a student at Mount Royal University for four years now, and have always thought of the institution as a school ahead of its times. For myself and many of my fellow students Mount Royal is a place where we get a quality education, an education provided by what I believe to be some of the best teachers in the country. I’ve always known MRU to be a place of high moral standing as well as academic achievement, which is why I feel that the cover of this month’s issue is offensive. I would expect to see such a vulgar and derogatory picture on the front of a pornographic movie cover, certainly not at school on my
Frankly, the front cover is a bit sickening. A female with no face, only a mouth, and a perfect one at that, happily about to chow down on a banana, implies more than just a nutritious snack to me. This newspaper is representative of our school. Many people visit mount royal for athletic events and short-term training courses, and even day care. With such a high volume of visitors and well as growing population of students, a demeaning photo such as this on the front of my schools paper is clearly a problem.
The need to get the attention of young people is addressed in the column “What a joke” and I agree that humour and satire is a great way to do it. What I don’t agree with is getting their attention with graphics and comments that are offensive to many students. I have never thought of myself as a feminist, and i enjoy satire just as many other young people do but I feel that this issue has crossed the line between funny and repulsive, and in doing so has made a school like Mount Royal look stupid. Please reconsider your attempts to get young people’s attention. In this situation I feel an apology is necessary. The students of Mount Royal have a lot more to offer than what the paper is conveying.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter,
J, (I don’t actually know your name)
I was very pleased to hear about your stand in opposition to the article entitled “An Overview of Love’s Under View”. I was appalled by the article myself and am very happy to add my voice to yours in opposition. I have several students here at Mount Royal and all are in opposition to this article as well. If I, or we, can be of any assistance in this process, please let me know.
LDS Volunteer Chaplain (MRU)
Seminaries and Institutes
I just wanted to tell you a few things about this weeks Reflector. A lot of people in the community and other post-secondary institutes would take the cover and content of this magazine as a definite turn off to potential employers, volunteer organizations, and other universities could look at this and see it as a reflection of the entire student body, which includes me and many others who did not like this Feb 2nd edition of the Reflector. Some of the things being said are crude and offensive. There is entertaining reading, but this just crosses the line!
— Jewel Manyfingers