Female conflict in pop culture taken too far

Tabloid media makes it seem as though when two women of equal talent, skill and popularity reach the peak of their careers, they have no choice but to become enemies. Unlike their male counterparts, who each have room at the top without a blatant competition, females are forced to be perceived as enemies, even when no such competition exists.

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We Believe, We Vote doesn't make sense

As the midterm elections are approaching for the region, it is important to consider many of the different perspectives the candidates are bringing to light through their campaigns. We Believe We Vote is a recently-founded organization that claims a non-partisan, Biblically-founded evaluation of candidates running for political offices in the greater Spokane area.

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Editorial: Why "Masks" was retracted

On May 14, The Whitworthian published a story in the opinions section called “Masks: one student’s story of discrimination on campus.” This story was published anonymously. While publishing anonymously is not ideal in most situations, The Whitworthian’s policies allow for anonymity when there is evidence that revealing the identity of people represented or quoted in an article may cause undue harm, emotional, physical or other, and when an editor determines there is sufficient verification of the facts, events, quotations, etc. present in the anonymous account.

In the case of “Masks,” editors felt the article both earned anonymity and could be verified. Anonymity was granted because the intent of the story was not meant to target specific individuals, but to bring to light the fact that despite Whitworth’s efforts to be supportive and inclusive, some students do not feel it is as welcoming as it seems. Identifying figures in the account may have caused readers to instead focus on individuals rather than the larger problem outlined in the story. As it was published in the opinions section, the story was not intended to be taken as a news account, but as the perspective of one student.

After much thought, the editors have decided to take “Masks” down. We appreciate the author’s perspective and respect people who share their experiences, but believe there are reasons the article should not remain posted. This is not a response to any pressure from administration or other outside parties.

First, while it is mentioned above we believe that “Masks” deserved anonymity, its anonymous status has caused some readers to try to guess who the author is, or who other people in the story might be. The Whitworthian is responsible for protecting the anonymity of such sources, and not protecting anonymity could be harmful for people involved. Second, the editors feel there are more effective ways this story could be told. There are always many sides to each situation, and since the publishing of “Masks,” the editors have heard differing perspectives on this issue.  “Masks” in its current state, with its combination of anonymity and a singular source, may not provide the most accurate information to enter this complex conversation as it could if told in a different form. Finally, according to the May 15 statement by Lorna Hernandez Jarvis, chief diversity officer and associate vice president for diversity, equity & inclusion, the university is still continuing its formal inquiry into the issue. The publication of “Masks” could interfere with this investigation.

It is for these reasons that “Masks” was removed from thewhitworthian.news. The Whitworthian editors appreciate the bravery of the “Masks” author for coming forward with their experience, and hope that for those that read it, it served as a catalyst for necessary dialogue on campus. Based on the online response, it’s clear that fighting discrimination and injustice is something Whitworthian readers take very seriously. We hope to continue to bring a voice to these issues in the future.

Editorials in the "In the Loop" section reflect the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, comprised of five editors.

 

So You Feel Overlooked? Let’s Talk: A Response to "Conservative opinions overlooked"

Josiah Van Wingerden, '17

I am writing this letter to respond to the article titled, “Conservative Opinions Overlooked at Whitworth,” published in the Whitworthian Opinions Section on March 21.

The purpose of my response is not to shame or condemn the author or school newspaper; rather, my hope is to start a constructive conversation about political opinions, affiliations and the environment of Whitworth. To anyone who may read this letter, I ask that you read carefully and thoroughly.

I’ll respond to each major point made in the article, so I apologize if the letter is a bit lengthy. But it’s so important.

In the first paragraph of the article, the author states that he is a proud conservative, that he loves this country, its laws and guns, that he does not support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation and that he will not apologize for his race (or gender)— Caucasian and male.

Let me be clear that I have absolutely no issue whatsoever with him being conservative or with what he believes. We have the right as people to express our views. And I’m actually glad that he is. It just may be the spark that starts conversations and inspires us to listen to one another.

However, I believe the author is gravely mistaken on multiple fronts. It is because of this belief that I felt compelled to respond to the article and offer a difference of perspective and values.

Universities and colleges are supposed to be places where people come not only for education, but also to be exposed to different people, beliefs, values and views. So that people can be more thoughtful and compassionate. So people can think critically about our society and thus, be better equipped to “serve humanity.” And that means all of humanity. I hope the author understands that.

Regarding the idea of apologizing for race, no one asked him to. As a person of color who attended Whitworth the same time as the author, I never asked him to. The thought of that never even crossed my mind.

The color of a person’s skin is determined biologically during development, influenced by the genetic makeup of the parents. This means that a person has literally no control over what he or she will look like.

We have no control over what color our skin will be, what our body can and cannot do, what socioeconomic class we’ll be born into, where we’ll be born or if we’ll even be born at all.

On the other hand, “race” is a man-made historical construct designed to categorize people and to falsely “define” what it means to be black, brown, tan and white.

People of color are not asking white people to apologize for being white. Trust me, we don’t want it. Why would we ask someone to apologize for something they have no control over? That does not make sense.

Rather, it has been white people who have been asking people who are not white to stop talking about how their races have affected the way we interact in this country. But we are not going to stop talking about it.

It seems like the author is playing the victim throughout the whole article— saying that he as a conservative, middle-class, white male— feels that he cannot adequately articulate himself without fear of ridicule.

However, since the inception of the United States, white men have never had to apologize for being white. White men have never been unwelcomed in this country or at colleges. White men have always had the power in this country and thus, the ability to enact legislation and place systems and structures that benefit them.

White men are the only major people group that has not experienced some form of marginalization based on race or biological predisposition. Almost every other major race of people has.

This is called “white-privilege.” This is all people of color like myself want you and others to acknowledge. We do not want pity or apologies, but a desire to learn about others and an attempt to reach a mutual understanding of history.

Acknowledge the fact that white people, heterosexual men specifically, have had and still have the upper hand and more opportunity to succeed in this country. And they’ve had it for a long time.

This country was founded by white men and for white men, to promote ideas and enact laws that specifically benefited them and no one else. Including educational institutions like Whitworth.

In the second and third paragraphs, the author states the theme of the whole piece—that he feels unwelcome at Whitworth because he is a conservative and Whitworth is a “liberal” institution that pushes for diversity. He also says he disagrees with the student government’s decision to support DACA.

First, supporting DACA does not mean that Whitworth is a liberal institution. Or that the majority of its students are liberal; let’s not get confused. I’d actually suggest the opposite and so do recent decisions made by administration and faculty members, which were supported by its students just last year.

For example, the administration of Whitworth cut ties with Planned Parenthood last year. Beck Taylor stated that the university would no longer offer experience or internship credits for its students through the organization.

Additionally, the Students for Life and Young Americans for Freedom clubs, both outwardly rooted in conservative beliefs, have a significant presence on and off campus.

Those two clubs are also affiliated with the national organizations. And both were chartered by the student government with support from their peers.

Conversely, the “pro-choice” student club, Generation Action, was not allowed to have affiliation with any national organization. It was not chartered due to lack of support.

So no, Whitworth is not a “liberal” institution, as the author claims. It is still rooted in and supports conservative beliefs and ideas, like other institutions before it.

And, I truly mean no disrespect to anyone when I say this—especially David Garcia, Shawn Washington, Lulu Gonzalez or Beck Taylor for their efforts—but Whitworth is not a diverse institution.

While it is true that the number of underrepresented students has jumped significantly in recent years, Whitworth still has a long way to go to achieve its diversity goals.

Black, Hispanic, Asian and LGBT faculty, staff members and students are still underrepresented at Whitworth and in Christian Higher Education in general, as are people with varying levels of physical and mental abilities.

Whitworth students, staff, faculty and administration members are all still predominantly white, conservative, Christian and middle-to-upper class.

So, I guess I am having a hard time understanding why the author feels so unwelcome at a place that was made for him.

In response to loving guns and opposing stricter regulations, gun control does not mean taking all guns away. Gun control does not mean changing the Second Amendment.

It is the idea that we as a society should make it harder for a person to abuse gun ownership by running more thorough background checks and comprehensive gun safety courses. Gun violence has to stop. I think we can all agree on that.

It seems like the author randomly throws a jab at DACA, saying he doesn’t support it, but doesn’t give a reason why. I am not saying that he has to necessarily, but it’s a cheap shot. Does he want members of the Whitworth community to be subject and vulnerable to deportation? If so, why?

DACA is not a political issue— it is a human one. That is why it is “preached” in the chapel.

By the way, the forum on Planned Parenthood when Beck made his statement was held in the chapel and I didn’t hear conservative or liberal students complain about that. Liberal students actually showed up to the forum.

Many families leave their countries because of political unrest, oppression, violence and turmoil. They are constantly told that “America is the land of opportunity,” and they just want those opportunities, hopes and dreams for a better life here.

That is why they are called “DREAMers.” DREAMers go to Whitworth. They pay the same amount of tuition and fees every year as you. They are there for the same reason as you are: education.

They grew up in this country. They have jobs. They pay taxes. They contribute heavily to society. They are talented. They do not attack, harm or hurt you in any way.

They were not brought here of their own accord; they had no choice. Neither did their parents and families. Why should we punish them for that?

Their fear of being deported and having their lives fundamentally changed because of that is real. I want you, the author, to understand that fact.

I understand that you, the author, will believe what you want to and that my response is not going to fundamentally change those beliefs. I get that. I respect that. I just hope you take the time to read this and understand the point of view that I’m coming from.

The author asked for others to be more considerate and thoughtful at the end of his piece, so I am asking something of him to end mine.

Before he says he feels unwelcome again, I’d ask that he consider who and where he is, what he believes, what he can do and where he comes from, and what that means for him, not only at Whitworth, but also in society as a whole.

His voice has always been heard. He is welcome at Whitworth and anywhere he goes. He has been for the longest time.

 

Female autonomy rooted in Christianity

Abby Nye

Last week, President Trump made the decision to allow employers to choose whether or not they would provide free birth control through insurance for female employees. This decision was made to accommodate for employers’ religious beliefs, according to ABC News’ article, “Women’s health docs say Trump ignores birth control science”. What employers decide to do will say a lot about how the church views female autonomy. If many employers decided to take away that right to free birth control, it will be a nod toward the controlling tendency of a few church members over women’s rights. Autonomy is defined as acting on reasons that are one’s own, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Trump’s recent act provides employers with the right to take away a woman’s choice of contraception, and therefore her autonomy.

The decision is related to the one Whitworth President Beck Taylor made last spring to end Whitworth’s affiliation with Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides free and accessible birth control to women without insurance. Both the national and school decision are reflections of how the church views female autonomy. President Taylor claimed that making the Planned Parenthood decision didn’t reflect the school’s opinion on female autonomy, but was a reflection of the church’s popular view against abortion.

Degrading a medical center that caters to the independent choices of women speaks to the underlying sexism pervasive in the Christian church. Similarly, Trump’s decision potentially prevents women from being able to make an independent and personal decision on the basis of religious beliefs. Both decisions reveal the popular fear the church has of female autonomy. If free birth control is one aspect of female autonomy, we must look at what it would mean to take it away, especially within a church context. To me, this decision is a direct refutation of the way that Jesus viewed women.

In Genesis 1:27 we are given the image of the creation of man and woman, both created equally in the image of God. In John 8, we see Jesus defending a woman who committed adultery. In John 4, Jesus calls a Samaritan woman to go and preach his word. In Luke 8, Jesus heals a woman who is debilitated with a reproductive ailment, and raises a young girl from the dead. Time and time again, we are provided examples of female equality, empowerment and autonomy supported by Jesus himself.  

Before any decision is made on behalf of all women on the basis of religious beliefs, it is imperative to understand where these beliefs come from. If it were really a decision made to accommodate for the church, then women should be provided with the choice of all medical decisions, especially her own birth control option. This decision seems to have been made to give more control to male government officials, and out of fear for female autonomy. Let us not forget that Jesus himself was the divine advocate for female autonomy and empowerment, and our decisions as Christians should be modeled after him.

Contact Abby Nye at anye19@my.whitworth.edu

Guest column: Excluding Planned Parenthood diminishes campus conversation

Nicole Sheets, faculty

 

In the mid-1990s, a few weeks into my first semester at a big state school, I joined a handful of other students from our campus pro-life club and held a giant poster of an aborted fetus. It was one of those big, gory color photos, the kind favored by street preachers or demonstrators along the Bloomsday course. We stood near a cluster of historic buildings to face the crawling Friday traffic. I felt the rush of doing something bold for God, proclaiming a truth that was unpopular, even unpalatable, but necessary. It was only afterwards, sitting in my friend Sarah’s dorm room, that we considered the usefulness of what we’d done. I experienced a sort of a spiritual indigestion. Even if our message was right, I thought, the delivery was all wrong.

About a year and a half ago, my spouse and I attended a demonstration in Spokane in support of Planned Parenthood. Instead of holding a sign, I wore our four-month-old daughter in one of those cumbersome wraps. I stood with this group not least because, when I was a graduate student in the 2000s, I went to the Planned Parenthood closest to campus for their affordable care. My experiences of pregnancy and motherhood have made the conversation about access to health care, particularly women’s health care, much more real for me. 

I was surprised and disappointed at the administration’s recent decision not to allow students or clubs to partner with Planned Parenthood. One of the features of Whitworth that I most cherish, that won me over from the start, is that this place doesn’t mandate that you live your faith according to one mold (and for students, of course, it doesn’t require that you have a faith at all). This leaves open room for all kinds of uncomfortable and, one hopes, healthy disagreement. It would be so much easier to have everyone sign a statement of belief and be done with it. I’m grateful for a university willing to ask, again and again, what this open-ended approach to faith looks like, and that this question is approached with prayer and careful thought.

Many concerns about this decision regarding Planned Parenthood have already been well expressed in the opinions section of “The Whitworthian” and by students and faculty at the recent community forum. One of my biggest objections is that for a university that prides itself on “courageous conversations,” this move mutes important conversations before they can even begin. 

We have a lot to learn from people involved in Whitworth’s pro-life student groups. There are many different ways to be pro-life, and I’m interested in the diversity of ideas and actions in that movement. Also, I imagine it’s changed quite a bit in the last 20-plus years (surely the posters are more tasteful and compassionate). 

The reverse is also true: those who identify as pro-life can learn from other views. 

Labels like “pro-life progressive” or “prayerfully pro-choice” would not have made sense to me as an undergraduate, but there’s middle ground between the poles of “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” For example, for those of us who would like to reduce the number of abortions, regardless of where we fall on this spectrum—why not join forces to make health care more readily available, including contraception? 

Generation Action supports Planned Parenthood’s mission to make reproductive health care more accessible for everyone and to promote fact-based education about human sexuality. If our existing pro-life clubs are discussing issues like this, then please turn up the volume. If not, then it’s even more obvious why Whitworth should welcome—officially and with equal resources—groups that would like to get us talking.

 

 

Nicole Sheets is an associate professor of English. She can be reached at nsheets@whitworth.edu.

 

Thank you to retiring Whitworthian adviser Jim McPherson

Journalism professor Jim McPherson accepted a temporary, one-year position upon coming to Whitworth 17 years ago. For the next two-and-a-half weeks before retirement, he will continue to occupy the basement of Lindaman, enter battle on Twitter, teach all aspects of media, using neckwear to illustrate his points, and, most relevant to us on the editorial board, advise The Whitworthian. We on the editorial board could not ask for a better adviser.

Jim has a story for everything: teaching at an all-women’s college, misadventures from his small logging hometown in Idaho, living in a renovated school bus for a year and being a migrant farmer, among others. His stories provide a wide range of life experiences that teach and assist in any situation.

As one letter to the editor in this week’s issue said, Whitworth professors are notoriously kind and generous to their students. Jim extends that sentiment to providing a space for students in his office, complete with candy, to discuss academic difficulties, personal problems or the seemingly never ending hurdles that come with an undergraduate degree. Aside from the time spent hiding from colleagues and students in his truck, trying to catch up on the day’s paper and eat his lunch, Jim never turns away a student who has a small question or a large crisis.

Jim teaches and exemplifies what it is to be a caring and loving spouse. Everyone who has taken a class from him probably feels like they know Jim’s wife Joanna. He exudes his love for her by praising her ability to raise and support her children alone. His feminist streak comes out as he proudly describes Joanna’s journey from a high school dropout to working in a male dominated technology field to earning a college degree.

Those lucky enough to be in his classes know that Jim is, one might say, not an easy grader. He is the first to admit this, proudly. His classes are challenging in the best way. He gives the grades students deserve, with a genuine desire to help students improve and to find out what they want to be.

Jim has been a committed, supportive and thoughtful adviser to The Whitworthian for the past 17 years, minus a sabbatical or two. He understands the value of learning throughout the process of creating a newspaper. This year’s Editorial Board, and editors throughout the years, faced many controversies and tough decisions. With cliffs and obstacles lurking ahead, Jim would often point out the missteps in judgment that led to problems, but let editors and the paper as whole fall and experience failure. He encourages us to take on tough issues and challenges rather than play it safe. And when we do fall, he is there to pick us up and steer us in the right direction.

Jim allows The Whitworthian to function as a true student newspaper, offering assistance when the paper needs it, but emphasizing student ownership. He exemplifies how the position of “adviser” should look.

The editors may have made mistakes, but with Jim’s hands-off style, editors and writers were allowed to understand the ramifications of their mistakes and learn how to manage the aftermath. No matter the gravity of the situation or amount of faculty or administrators upset, Jim remains a calm and steadfast advocate for the paper and supports the staff’s ability to produce the paper each week. His support means everything to us.

In the days before Jim retires from Whitworth, we wanted to use this page space and opportunity to thank him. For the time spent in his office crying or laughing or listening to his stories. For passionate and fascinating lectures on media history and feminism. For the innumerable AP style corrections he has provided. For a story to go with every tie. For the hours and hours he spent with us and 17 years of previous editors in the media office reading and editing copy, and eating candy. Most of all, for teaching us how to be better writers, editors, media critics, ethical journalists and people.