The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

To whom it may concern: A student leader’s stance against the gender binary

The proceeding letter is representative of the student who independently drafted and submitted it to the university and then provided it to The Signal. Please see our editorial for further discussion of our opinions on the topic.

Concerned student, Juan Villapudua (sophomore, Biology and Gender Studies) submitted the letter to multiple departments on campus after attending the mandatory “Accountability and Social Responsibility” Title IX workshop on Sept. 22.

Villapudua was there as a representative for two new clubs: Students Promoting Equality Education and Knowledge for Society (SPEEAKS) and Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (OSTEM).

In an interview with The Signal, Villapudua stated the purpose of his actions in response to Marchman’s presentation.

“I did this so that things people normally pass over can be exposed for what they truely are,” Villapudua said. “Maybe it wasn’t his intentions, but it is about the conscious and subconscious effects his message had on the audience.”

__________________

I am writing to you concerning the Title IX workshop held at 3:30 pm on September 22, 2014 in main dining at CSU Stanislaus titled “Accountability and Social Responsibility”. Officers of on campus student organizations and members of Greek organizations were mandated to attend at least one of these Title IX  workshops. To our dismay the Title IX workshop referenced earlier offended many in attendance for various reasons. The speaker, Derek Marchman, made victim blaming comments, perpetuated misconceptions about gender, disregarded the existence of non-heterosexual identities, and inappropriately targeted another Greek Organization.

At certain points Mr. Marchman turned his attention to the “ladies” (as he liked to reference them) in the audience and said “You’ve got to do something!”  in respect  to  being victims of domestic violence and abuse. Rather than encouraging men to not partake in abusive behavior and revert from their abusive tendencies he disparaged the abusers as “the bad guys”. He urged the women “You’ve got to do something!” as if women in domestic violence relationships haven’t attempted to flee (on average 7 attempts are made by victims to flee before any success). The victim blaming progressed peaking at the point when Mr.Marchman tried confirming with the audience “Girls are good at pushing buttons, am I right?”.   What he said appeared to be a comedic reference to gender stereotypes on women but it came across as rude and offensive. 

Another controversy that ensued was Mr. Marchman’s criticism of the Greek Organization Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE). Mr. Marchman emphasized a scandal involving TKE Alumni at the University of Wisconsin. Blaming TKEs for pluralistic ignorance. Mr. Marchman (renowned as a Kappa Sigma Alumni) maliciously attacked the TKEs stating “They should have done something! But they didn’t, and they still don’t hold themselves accountable!”. This was highly inappropriate conduct that most likely stemmed from a personal bias; his point could have been made without degrading and humiliating TKEs on campus who had no affiliation with the chapter at the institution Mr. Marchman was alluding to.

The most discerning part of the workshop was that Mr. Marchman was oblivious to his privilege as a cisgender, heterosexual male. The concern isn’t that he identifies as either of those identities but the fact that he was not sensitive to those who were LGBT in the audience. He displayed a perspective that strictly reinforced gender binary norms and assumed that everyone pursued heterosexual relationships.  “Us guys” was a common phrase he used preceding suggestions that should be taken in heterosexual relationships.  It is “educators” such as him that keep heteronormative perspectives invisible in the eyes of the general public pushing the LGBT community into the margins. There was even a case where Mr. Marchman used the term “gender” incorrectly when he should have used the word “sex” to appropriately describe the scenario in his story (he said “the birth gender” when gender is a cultural component that is chosen by a socially conscious individual). Academia is about deconstructing misconceptions, not affirming them; workshops such as these should be for understanding and combating unfair privilege.

The clubs oSTEM and SPEEAKS (whom I represent in this letter) hope that presenters can be all inclusive, and that is why I write this to you. Making workshops with this content mandatory is doing a disservice to students and the community. Half of the content was in reference to fraternities which excluded student organizations and sororities.

Please encourage these events to be all inclusive allowing students to feel comfortable regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and club/Greek affiliation.

Thank you for your time and I hope to hear back about how you’ve handled this situation and measurements you will take to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future.

Sincerely,

Juan Villapudua

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To whom it may concern: A student leader’s stance against the gender binary