Posters targeting women found on campus on International Women’s Day
University condemns misogynistic messages on posters
Posters that “denigrate” and “target” women were posted in several buildings on campus late Tuesday night, the eve of International Women’s Day, AU police said. The posters referred to the commemorative day as “International Nag Day 2017,” and referenced women’s stereotypical homemaking roles, including a cartoon of a man saying “make me a sandwich.”
In a crime alert issued by AU police Wednesday afternoon, the fliers were reported in various locations on campus, including the Mary Graydon Center, McCabe Hall, the McKinley building and the Kogod School of Business. The alert included images taken from security footage of the suspected perpetrator. AU police said in the alert that they are investigating the incident.
“I was disgusted and shocked that someone would go through the effort of printing out color copies of something so juvenile and disrespectful and it’s more than just distasteful, it’s hateful,” Alexandra Long, a first year master’s of psychology student said. Long saw one of the posters hung in Asbury Hall.
Provost Scott Bass sent an email around noon on Wednesday to students denouncing the posters. He said the fliers were against AU’s poster policy, which regulates how posters are distributed to the community. Student Activities is the “middleman” that approves all posters that are about to be hung on campus.
“We condemn the message as misogynistic, disrespectful, and divisive,” Bass wrote. “Our university is no place for such hostility and disrespect.”
Kogod students received an email alert earlier around 10 a.m. about the posters from Kogod Dean John T. Delaney.
“This is not the place for such disrespect to be shown,” Delaney wrote in the email obtained by The Eagle. “We must stand together to overcome hate and ignorance.”
Long first found out about the posters when her professor, Dr. Michele Carter, showed her 8:10 a.m. class a photo he took of the poster.
Carter told The Eagle he first saw the poster when he entered the psychology department in Asbury Hall. AU police did not mention Asbury Hall in their campus wide email.
Carter said he wanted to show his class the image because “they need to be aware of what's going on in their environment.”
“In my experience, such events are not to be run from but need to be addressed directly in order for an open discussion to occur,” Carter said. “Otherwise, people feel as though it is not an important issue to discuss, that we are not equally concerned by such behavior, and can end up quietly resenting the AU community in general.”
It wasn’t until Long went to her next class in Asbury Hall that she saw the poster in-person. Long took a photo of one of the posters on a bulletin board in that building and provided the image to The Eagle. She and Carter said that the posters she saw were all of the same design and were on bulletin boards, taped on the walls and under doors of professors’ offices in Asbury. Additionally, Long said the posters were hung in the women’s restroom.
The poster she saw featured an image of a man gesturing with one hand, captioned, “Stop talking and b*tching woman on March 8 and make me a sandwich.” Along the side of the poster, the words “International Nags Day 2017” referenced International Women’s Day on March 8.
“I can believe that people feel those things,” Long said. “I’ve seen and heard sentiments that are similar to that, but the fact that today someone would have gone through the effort of putting that in our faces, it made me disgusted and sad.”
Carter said he reported the incident to College of Arts and Sciences Dean Peter Starr, Provost Scott Bass and the Office of Campus Life.
Senior Director of the University Center and Student Activities Michael Elmore said he did not see the posters and only saw the university’s announcement of the postings. The University poster policy has 12 regulations, including that all posters must be approved by Student Activities before being mass produced, all posters must only be posted on bulletin boards and that individuals, departments and student organizations found in violation of these policies may be referred to Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services.
The Student Advocacy Center, led by director Will Mascaro, recently passed a recommendation in February so that the Student Conduct Code now has specific language for identity-bias attacks.
According to the new code “significant factors” in determining sanctions will include “evidence that the respondent’s conduct was motivated by bias towards an individual or group on the basis of real or perceived, race, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, age, disability, ethnicity, veteran status, or sexual orientation.”
With this change, if the perpetrator in this incident is caught and is a student, the Student Conduct Code will include in the report that this was a gender-biased attack, Mascaro said. If that is the case, Mascaro said it will test the new conduct code and the University.
“I’m hopeful that information about who was responsible comes forward because then we’re putting these reforms to the test and actually making sure that the University honors their commitment to enforce that new language,” Mascaro said.
AU police posted resources to file report and tips of the incident. If you have information regarding this incident, or witness suspicious activity, please immediately call the American University Police Department at 202-885-3636. Students can also make a Confidential Tip through the American University Police Department Webpage.