Student Senate panel discusses sexism

Student Senate President Nick Southall’s controversial tweet led to a panel discussion.(Calvin Mattheis | For The Post)

The suits and ties were left home Sunday evening as Student Senate sat down to address the sexist culture on Ohio University’s campus and how they, as student representatives, can become role models.

Facilitated by Susanne Dietzel, director of the Women’s Center, senate members convened for an open discussion on the objectification of women’s bodies and sexual violence, both of which have been hot topics in recent weeks.

The panel was triggered by a tweet sent by Student Senate President Nick Southall on Sept. 1: “Driving through Athens at 8:30 on Sunday morning is hilarious. I want to stop every girl I see and say, ‘your dress is a little wrinkly.’ ”

Representatives from numerous departments, including the LGBT Center and Women’s Center, led the conversation to create a “safe space” for senate members to ask questions.

“All of the senators felt really comfortable being honest, and I think it made it a much better learning experience,” said Allie Erwin, senator from the Honors Tutorial College. “I feel that no one felt attacked.”

Although senate’s online conduct was discussed, the organization didn’t develop a social media policy.

The Board of Trustees must approve a change to senate’s constitution, which has made senate hesitant to instate a formal social media policy.

However, there was discussion of a resolution banning gender discrimination and conducting bystander training for senate’s male members.

“It was very informative and opened a lot of eyes,” Southall said. “I think this is just the starting point. Student Senate will take this knowledge with them  … (and) work to make the OU environment better.”

A part of improving the atmosphere on campus, some argue, involves promoting and demanding security for those who walk the streets of Athens.

“We need to make this campus a more safe place for all students,” said Anna Morton, senate vice president. “As people in our positions we need to start saying something.”

Other campus leaders agree, including LGBT Center Director Delfin Bautista.

“If we do promote ourselves as a campus where everyone is safe … that also needs to translate into how we talk,” Bautista said.


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