Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.08.09
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
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1. The Salt Lake Tribune - Kragthorpe: There's no place for locker room talk, even in the locker room
2. Honolulu Advertiser - WAC warns McMackin
3. Inside Higher Ed - When the Coach Said ‘Faggot’
4. University of Wisconsin, Green Bay - Ally Conference for diversity will return in October
5. Daily Press - School's response to gay slur lame
6. Newswise - Indiana University Research at the American Sociological Association Meeting
1. The Salt Lake Tribune, August 2, 2009
90 S. 400 West, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Kragthorpe: There's no place for locker room talk, even in the locker room
By Kurt Kragthorpe
Commissioner Karl Benson likes staging Western Athletic Conference media events in Salt Lake City, partly to remind everyone that Utah is part of WAC territory, right in the middle of the Mountain West.
Of course, the word that came out of Hawaii coach Greg McMackin's mouth is all anyone will remember from the latest gathering here in the WAC's footprint.
By using a gay slur in his presentation during the WAC Football Preview, McMackin became the face of the league for now, managing to overshadow Chris Petersen, Gary Andersen and everybody else.
The level of scrutiny that major college football coaches face these days is completely warranted, considering their contracts worth millions of dollars and their societal positions, even beyond their influence in sports. They have to understand the responsibility that goes with being the school's highest-paid and most recognizable employee, and most of them do. As much as an old-school coach such as McMackin may wish he could deal only with football issues and be judged strictly by what happens on the field, that's just not the case anymore.
The longtime defensive coordinator became offensive that day, and he'll have to live with his performance. McMackin probably thought some of the losses he absorbed as a Ute assistant coach under Ron McBride in the early 1990s or Hawaii's defeat at Utah State last November were his worst moments in Utah. In a matter of seconds in a Salt Lake City airport hotel meeting room, he did more career damage to himself than anything that ever happened on the field.
The consequences are significant, costing him $169,000 via a 30-day suspension (McMackin will coach voluntarily during that time) and a further cut from his $1.1 million salary, in addition to requiring him to join in awareness efforts on behalf of the gay and lesbian community in Honolulu.
This is the case of a guy who's entering his second season as Hawaii's coach, and whose only previous head coaching experience came in the 1980s at Oregon Tech, an NAIA school with, I'm guessing, few media obligations. He's personable, but hardly polished when it comes to making speeches. He apparently seemed to think he was just chatting that day, even asking if there were any Notre Dame fans in the room -- which clearly is no excuse for what he said.
Hawaii administrators acted appropriately. In the past, McMackin may have received far less punishment, if any, for his offensive term. So these sanctions represent an advancement for society. In another era of journalism, he may have succeeded in persuading reporters to ignore his remark. This development also is healthy.
Oh, no. There could be no pretending this did not happen. There was a microphone, a podium and recording equipment, and Benson himself was in the back of the room. Beyond that, McMackin's problem was using such a word in any setting, formal or otherwise.
It is funny how life works sometimes. If not for fielding an innocent question about how losing by four touchdowns in the Hawaii Bowl affected his team's offseason, McMackin never would have described the Notre Dame players' chant during a pregame banquet. The context of the story was McMackin's criticizing himself for having his players respond with their warrior dance, which he believes made Notre Dame take the game more seriously.
Obviously, it all backfired on him, from Christmas Eve into August and beyond. He should learn from this sad episode, and his sincere, emotional demeanor suggests he will. So, I hope, will a lot of other coaches and athletes. In this century, there's no place for locker-room talk. Not even in the locker room.
2. Honolulu Advertiser, August 4, 2009
P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802
WAC warns McMackin
By Advertiser Staff
Under sanctions announced yesterday, University of Hawai'i football coach Greg McMackin has been warned by the Western Athletic Conference that any "further violations" of its sportsmanship code "will result in an automatic one-game suspension, at the minimum."
The WAC yesterday said it publicly reprimanded McMackin for his comments at the conference's annual football media preview Thursday in which "his comments included a gay slur that he used while discussing the University of Notre Dame football team."
It was the second least severe of three options commissioner Karl Benson had available for a violation of the WAC's sportsmanship code. They included a private reprimand and game suspension.
But, in announcing the action, the WAC said it was also "issuing a warning" about future conduct. Benson declined to specify what conduct could be deemed in violation and referred reporters to the WAC Code, which classifies prohibited behavior as:
"Acts in violation of conference sportsmanship policy shall include, but not be limited to, striking or attempting to strike or otherwise physically abusing an official, coach, spectator or student-athlete; intentionally inciting participants or spectators to violent action; using obscene gestures, inappropriate chants, yells or unduly provocative language or action toward an official, student-athlete, coach or spectator; publicly criticizing an official, conference personnel, another member institution or a student-athlete or personnel of another member institution and other actions which create a hostile environment."
The WAC Code says violators "shall remain subject to subsequently offense penalties for a full calendar year from the date of the first offense."
UH athletic director Jim Donovan said, "I really appreciate Karl Benson's quick response."
A WAC spokesman said procedure dictates that the school be given the first opportunity to address disciplinary action against an employee unless immediate action is required.
Benson said, "I greatly appreciate the quick and decisive actions by UH Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw and Athletics Director Jim Donovan (Friday) as it has made my job in processing this very unfortunate situation much easier. Coach McMackin's comments were clearly offensive, violated the WAC Code, and are not condoned by either Hawai'i or the WAC."
Friday, UH announced McMackin had accepted a 7 percent salary cut, a 30-day suspension without pay and agreed to participate in public service announcements work with a campus organization that represents gays.
Donovan said, "Coach McMackin will follow through with the things he volunteered to do with the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community on campus and doing the public service announcement. The athletic department staff and student athletes will undergo awareness training, which we have done on a regular basis in the past."
3. Inside Higher Ed, August 6, 2009
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
When the Coach Said ‘Faggot’
By Kristine Newhall
I came across the story of University of Hawaii football coach Greg McMackin’s bad behavior a little late, which in this era of the 24-hour news cycle was approximately one day. This meant I was reading editorials rather than breaking news stories. What struck me most -- initially -- about the coverage of the incident was that I could not actually find the details of the incident itself. It took me quite a long time -- at least 10 minutes, which, in high-speed internet time, is a lengthy period -- to find out exactly what McMackin said. I saw phrases like “gay slur,” “term offensive to gay people,” “derogatory term used against gay people.” But what was it? What had he said? I couldn’t even find the context of his statement right away.
But after several Google searches, I ended up on a sports blog not known for mincing words -- theirs or McMackin’s. It was the f-word -- the other one -- used in reference to the chant the University of Notre Dame football team does before games, in particular before their bowl game last year when they beat the University of Hawaii. Laughter erupted during the press conference when McMackin called the ritual a “faggot dance.” Oh, wait, am I not supposed to use the word? McMackin used it three times seemingly knowing each time he said it that he was digging himself deeper. (A recording may be found here.)
It is, as Wikipedia will tell you, a “highly pejorative term.” But what kind of understanding are we creating when we cannot even talk about the situation without using abstractions? The laughter from the reporters in the press conference and the subsequent erasure of the word and the details by most media outlets suggests that most know there is something wrong with the word. But what exactly it is remains more ambiguous. I hear people asking how “faggot” compares with other derogatory words -- most notably the “n-word.” This is not the most productive discussion, either. Hierarchizing oppression and the history of oppressed peoples does not often create awareness or engender social change.
Some might argue that punishing McMackin by suspending him and cutting his $1 million+ salary will not either. But McMackin is being punished -- and rightly so -- because he is a university employee and his employer has a code of conduct. But no one should be shocked that a university employee would utter such a word. Or rather, we should not be surprised that McMackin uttered it. This is not a personal attack -- I don’t know him. But, as the football coach, he is not really part of university culture in the way that, for example, an economics professor or residence hall director is. McMackin is part of football culture. And in football culture, even football culture that exists within a university setting, homophobic comments are commonplace -- and accepted, even today, and even as most know that "faggot" is a derogatory term. And that is part of the reason for the laughter: an awkward collision of cultures.
In high school I played tennis on courts adjacent to the football team’s practice field. And thus I and my teammates were privy to all the anti-gay terms (allegedly used for encouragement) offered by the head coach, who was also a physical education teacher at the school. No one said anything. Not even the coaches of my team -- also school employees. That was over a decade ago. But I doubt the situation has improved much. The mistake McMackin made was saying faggot in public and directing it toward an opposing team. But it is likely that he has used it before in less public settings. A press conference is not the first place one tries out a word like that. But even if he has not, he has heard someone say it; and so have all his players. And so have the players for Notre Dame. In fact, it would be difficult to find a football player or a coach who has not at least heard the word faggot used during games or practices or locker room talk.
McMackin will undergo some form of sensitivity training as part of his punishment. It is unfortunate that learning about hateful language and diversity and tolerance is couched as punishment these days -- that colleges and schools bring in the diversity trainers to athletic departments when someone behaves badly. This cultural divide that exists within university settings between athletic departments and everybody else is not productive.
There is an assumption that all non-athletic department university employees are enlightened and those within athletic departments are uneducated and small-minded. Neither assumption is true, but to the extent that colleges and universities care about the cultures of all their departments with regard to basic tolerance, they shouldn’t be looking the other way at what goes on regularly, without being recorded at a press conference. In short, universities are not necessarily doing the best job talking about these issues either. Again, there is a “we know it’s wrong, but we’re not quite sure why” kind of mentality that actually impedes productive discourse about discrimination generally and homophobia specifically.
This is not to say that the University of Hawaii, or any other university that has experienced something similar, has done the wrong thing in mandating diversity training after such an incident. Rather, I mention it as my own little attempt to eradicate the “us versus them" mentality that is at the core of this and other instances of discrimination and hate speech.
My hope is that McMackin is able to take something from the learning experience he is being presented with rather than resent the way it has arisen. But he must also pass on what he learns to his players, to his assistant coaches, to his recruits -- heck, he might even teach those reporters in the room with him something by the time he is done. He, like all coaches, must be a leader. And he, like other members of the university community of which he is a part, must adhere to, as well as set, a standard for behavior.
Kristine Newhall is a Ph.D. candidate in women’s studies at the University of Iowa and one of the authors of Title IX Blog.
4. University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, August 6, 2009
UW-Green Bay, CL815, 2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay, WI 54311-7001
Ally Conference for diversity will return in October
GREEN BAY — The second annual ALLY Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will seek to empower its participants with the knowledge and enthusiasm to strive for change and allyship through its workshops and keynote speaker, organizers say.
The conference, scheduled from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009, emphasizes diversity and accessibility issues within all student populations, and also provides a safe environment to celebrate the diversity and talents of women, people of color, persons with disabilities and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning (LGBTQ) community. Conference participants will also learn how to become an ally, or advocate, for these communities.
An “ally” is described as “a person who recognizes they are on the privilege side of a particular prejudice/oppression divide that society creates and actively engages in the search and implementation of strategies to dismantle that divide.”
The conference’s keynote speaker is best-selling author and LGBT civil rights leader Shane L. Windmeyer, a member of the American Indian Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. He is a leading author on gay campus issues, a national leader in gay and lesbian civil rights and a champion for LGBT issues on college campuses. He has been featured in The New York Times, Rolling Stone and TIME Magazine, and has been on MSNBC’s “The Situation” with Tucker Carlson.
Windmeyer’s keynote message will address the impact of hate on a college campus. The program intends to create a foundation of understanding surrounding hate crimes, explore an individual’s awareness of prejudice and motivate individuals to make a difference in the larger campus community.
Windmeyer is cofounder and executive director of Campus Pride, a national organization for student leaders and campus organizations working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students.
Released in fall of 2006 by Alyson Books, Windmeyer is the author of The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, the first-ever college guide profiling the “100 Best LGBT-Friendly Campuses.” He is also the editor of Brotherhood: Gay Life in College Fraternities and co-editor of the books Inspiration for LGBT Students and Allies, Out on Fraternity Row: Personal Accounts of Being Gay in a College Fraternity, and Secret Sisters: Stories of Being Lesbian and Bisexual in a College Sorority.
ALLY Conference workshops will be held in the University Union, 2420 Nicolet Drive.
The conference is free for UW-Green Bay students. Community members can attend for $25.
Pre-registration is required by Wednesday, Sept. 30. Registration is available online at http://www.uwgb.edu/aic/ally.
The ALLY Conference is sponsored by UW-Green Bay’s American Intercultural Center, Campus Life Diversity Taskforce, Human Development Program, Social Change and Development Program, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Social Work Program, Office of Student Life, Office of Residence Life, and the Residence Hall and Apartment Association. Harmony Café in Green Bay is a community sponsor.
(Editor’s note: For more on keynote speaker Shane L. Windmeyer, visit his website at http://www.shanewindmeyer.com/.)
5. Daily Press, August 8, 2009
Daily Press, 7505 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23607
School's response to gay slur lame
By Dave Fairbank
While the President was solving the nation's racial problems over beers, the head football coach at his native state university demonstrated that plenty of work remains in the area of homophobia within the male jock culture.
The University of Hawaii's Greg McMackin spent the past week backpedaling and apologizing after using a gay slur in reference to Notre Dame at the Western Athletic Conference football media day.
McMackin dropped the f-bomb. Several times.
First, he used it to describe a dance number the Fighting Irish performed at a team get-together before last year's Hawaii Bowl. Catching himself, sort of, he then used it a couple more times in ham-handed attempts to coax reporters into ignoring the original slur.
McMackin later explained that he was trying to be funny, but admitted that it was neither funny nor appropriate.
What it was, unfortunately, was typical. Football fields and locker rooms are among the most homophobic places in America.
McMackin's remark cracked open a window into that culture.
The university's response was, one, lame and, two, predictable. McMackin was "suspended" 30 days and docked a month's salary. Both measures come with qualifiers.
He will continue to coach the team on a "voluntary" basis, without pay, because the school administration said that his absence would adversely affect the team as it prepares for the upcoming season.
As for the pay cut, McMackin had volunteered to take a seven-percent hit — a concession to the school's massive budget deficit — before his little stand-up routine. So the school imposed a penalty to which he had previously agreed.
The punishment, or lack thereof, was predictable because it came in the wake of a gay slur. I suspect that if he had used a racial or ethnic slur — had he dropped the n-bomb — he would have been fired before he got to the airport for his flight home.
Instead, there are public reprimands and tearful apologies and sensitivity training and donations to the school's gay and lesbian student organization.
Right about now, some people are saying: Let it go; it's one ill-considered remark by a college football coach that no one could have picked out of a lineup two weeks ago.
It's one ill-considered remark caught on tape. It's emblematic of a bigger picture that at least ought to be discussed.
Some will see the noise around McMackin as yet another example of political correctness and the speech police sprung into action. Maybe.
The First Amendment serves as a shield for causes both noble and shameful. That's part of the deal.
The anti-PC brigade often cites intent as justification for questionable words and deeds. If no malice is intended, then what's the harm?
Forget, for a moment, that harm is often experienced by those who do not control the debate. McMackin's remark doesn't approach that standard. He and his advocates can say that it was out of character for him, that he tries to treat everyone with dignity and respect.
Give him the benefit of the doubt. The use of that particular slur in that context, however, was no ordinary adjective. It was intended as an insult. Prissy. Dainty. Less than masculine.
McMackin conveyed the worst possible label for football players with a word that's about as hurtful as it gets within the gay community.
Plenty of people aren't offended by words or slurs. Good on 'em. Maybe it's a choice. Maybe it's how they're wired. However, that does not invalidate the thoughts and feelings of people for whom those same words and names matter.
Are some people overly sensitive? Sure. Are some people looking to make hay over any perceived slight? You bet.
Are some people unwilling to entertain the very idea that language and culture evolve, because it might remove a hammer that they have comfortably wielded for years? No doubt.
There's a legitimate debate about whether a verbal slur of any kind should cost someone their job, about the power of language, about acceptable standards, about tolerance.
We won't reach consensus on those areas any more than President Obama, Prof. Henry Louis Gates and Sgt. James Crowley can fix race relations over a couple of cold ones at the White House.
Bartender, another round. This one figures to take a while.
Dave Fairbank can be reached at 247-4637 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For more from Fairbank, read his blog at dailypress.com/fromthetarpit.
6. Newswise, August 7, 2009
215 5th Street, SW, Ste. 100, Charlottesville, VA 22903
Indiana University Research at the American Sociological Association Meeting
OUT IN THE COUNTRY
Gay depictions in the media have "exploded" in the last 10 years but rural gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual youth still find it difficult to find people like them on TV or in the movies. Instead, many turn to the Internet to help them come to terms with their sexual identity and rural lifestyle.
Rather than using the Internet to mentally escape their surroundings, where peers are scarce, youth in an ethnographic study by Indiana University researcher Mary Gray used it to find people like them, either nearby or simply dealing with similar issues.
"They were looking for representations that talked about living out in the country, not escapism," Gray said. "It validated the possibility of living in a rural community. There are quite literally youth who would show these coming out stories to their family and friends, saying 'there are kids like me living in places like this.'"
Gray, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Culture in IU Bloomington's College of Arts and Sciences, spent 19 months talking and interacting with rural youth in Kentucky and along its Appalachian borders. She also writes about her findings in the book "Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America" (NYU Press 2009), published on Aug. 1.
Gray conducted her research between 2001 and 2004, before the rapid growth of social media. While the Internet was useful to youth, it was often a challenge for the youth to have access to computers in ways in which they felt safe to explore, either because they did not have exclusive use of home computers or because of other factors, such as monitoring software at their schools.
Gray's presentation is scheduled for 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 8, in the Parc 55 Hotel, during the session Communication Information Technologies, Community and Sexuality.
A DOG'S LIFE
Some dogs are revered or pampered, with fancy clothes and loads of affection; others work for a living. David Blouin, a cultural sociologist at Indiana University South Bend, said relationships between dogs and their owners generally fall into three distinct categories, with some bestowing more canine benefits than others.
And while some dogs may live the high life, serving as surrogate children to their humans, their circumstances can change depending on their owner's life course and experiences.
"I found it interesting that there are different ways to relate to and think about animals and that people are able to switch and latch onto a different way of thinking about and treating animals when other things happen in their lives, like having children," said Blouin, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
Blouin conducted 28 in-depth interviews with dog owners from a Midwestern county. Dog ownership attitudes fell into three categories: Humanist, where dogs were highly valued and considered close companions, like pseudo people; protectionists might be vegetarians and they greatly valued animals in general, not just as pets; dominionists saw animals as separate and less important than people, often using the dogs for hunting and pest control and requiring them to live outdoors.
Blouin said the distinct orientations toward animals were informed by multiple, competing cultural logics as well as personal experiences, demographic characteristics and family structure. Rural dog owners were more likely to leave their pets outside, for example. Empty-nesters seemed to be the most attached to their pets.
"People don't make this stuff up themselves," Blouin said. "They learn how animals should be treated. There are different ideas out there and these ideas exist in little packages, which are promoted by different groups, like the Humane Society or kennel clubs."
Blouin's presentation is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. during the Cultural Sociology session at the Parc 55 Hotel.
NO BULLIES HERE
While a number of researchers have examined bullying, particularly in the wake of high-profile school shootings, these researchers largely ignore the ways that bullying is actually defined by students. Typically both students and researchers include physical and emotional abuse in their definitions of bullying, yet students differ from researchers in how they label others "bullies."
Brent Harger, a recent graduate of Indiana University Bloomington's Department of Sociology and now assistant professor of sociology at Albright College in Reading, Penn., found that many students view bullying as a false dichotomy in which others are either "bullies" or "non-bullies." In this false dichotomy, students argue that if somebody is to be labeled a bully, he or she must fit that label at all times. This applies to how students label themselves, too.
As a result, students may participate in behavior that researchers would label bullying but define themselves as non-bullies because of other factors such as getting good grades or participating in extracurricular activities. Because they do not identify themselves as bullies, students are able to dismiss anti-bullying messages in schools as "not for them." As a result, anti-bullying policies in schools may prevent the labeling of students as bullies but not the behaviors that outsiders would define as bullying.
"While my conference presentation focuses on student definitions, a number of adults in the schools also used this type of false dichotomy, such as a principal who said, 'I have one bully in my school,'" Harger said. "Just as with the students, defining bullies in this way prevented adults from seeing that a number of individual actions could be labeled bullying and led them to conclude that bullying was not a problem in their schools."
Harger will discuss his research on Saturday, Aug. 8, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. in the Crime and Delinquency session in the Parc 55 Hotel.
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