“makes women, alongside other LGBTQIA+ and POC members of our community feel inferior, unwelcomed, and outnumbered”
When I first saw this story, I thought maybe it was a hoax, or at least parody. But apparently it’s for real, or at least the campus newspaper The Spectator treats it as being real.
It’s about my alma mater, Hamilton College, which has seen its share of social justice activism in recent years reflecting a generational faculty shift to the left. Hamilton is a textbook example of how a relatively small group of left-wing faculty activists can take over an institution, as detailed in our 2012 post, Western Civilization driven off campus at Hamilton College.
While Hamilton is not as bad as some liberal arts schools, identity-politics and intersectional quasi-religious fervor has resulted in absurd results, such as segregated diversity training in 2013, as detailed in these posts:
- Hamilton College segregates diversity program by race
- Hamilton College cancels racially-segregated diversity program
- Hamilton College student: Why I stood up against segregated diversity program
- Hamilton College desegregated Diversity Town Hall exposes racial tensions
- Dear Hamilton College Bd. of Trustees, maybe your Diversity Industry is making race relations worse
Hamilton also fell victim to the victimhood narratives of recent years, in which students issues lengthy and absurd “demands” on the college, Inflation: Hamilton College students issue 83 Demands.
The result of this identity-politics activism has been to turn students against each other, as one student noted in 2015, “As a white, heterosexual girl, I risk a lot by publicly expressing my opinions on this matter”.
Most of the turmoil at Hamilton took place under a prior president, Joan Hinde Stewart. In July 2016, Hamilton installed a new president, former Cornell Law School professor and then Dean of the University of Minnesota Law School, David Wippman.
So it will be curious to see how Wippman handles this controversy, in which a student group was formed to protest too many white males eating at the campus “Little Pub.” As with most of such protests, the Little Pub controversy is just a proxy for a larger fight.
The Hamilton College Spectator reports, “PUB POWER” group aims to address perceived white upper-class hegemony:
This week, between 11:30 AM and 1 PM, regular patrons of The Little Pub (a time commonly known as “Pub Lunch”) might have noticed an unfamiliar dynamic. Such a divergence from the Pub’s expected lunchtime normalcy is the result of a Facebook group called “PUB POWER”; the group has set a goal of disrupting the typical demographic makeup of the space.
According to the group’s description, PUB POWER aims to “have as many women possible attend pub lunch in order to dismantle [the] hegemony and reclaim the space as open to all.” They add, “Historically, white, upper class, able-bodied males have dominated and claimed many ‘public spaces’ as their own. Here, at Hamilton College, the Little Pub Lunch serves as a prime example of a space occupied solely by men.”
Although the group acknowledges that any detrimental actions or tendencies of the white, upper class, and able-bodied men who tend to frequent Pub Lunch may be “unintentional”, the group asserts that their dominance over the space “makes women, alongside other LGBTQIA+ and POC members of our community feel inferior, unwelcomed, and outnumbered.”
According to screenshots obtained by The Spectator, the Facebook group appears to have an active following. Posts encouraging members to “smash the patriarchy” achieved upwards of 20 reactions, while group organizers, Irina Rojas ’18 and Ysabel Coss ’18, used the forum to share galvanizing messages of support after a “strong” first day turnout.
Ashley Huntington ’20, an active member of PUB POWER, says that the Facebook group currently has 489 members and that it is “gaining momentum” and “the word is spreading” to women around campus. She hopes that turnout continues to improve in the latter half of the week.
The Spectator goes on to note that the protest group idea started after several Hamilton students attended the National Women’s Studies Association conference last November:
Huntington traces the origins of the group back to the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in Baltimore, Maryland that seven Women and Gender Studies majors attended in November. Listening to a panel of women speak on the topic of feminist activism, Huntington says that she “immediately thought about the mostly all-men turnout during Pub Lunch.”
In the past, Huntington says that she and her friends had entered the Pub intending to have lunch, only to “immediately turn around and go eat somewhere else.” She calls this a reaction to the “spatial phenomena” where “women do not feel welcome in the space, along with people of color and LGBTQIA+ members.”
Leili Aliyari ’20, another group member, echoes many of Huntington’s sentiments. To her, the purpose of the group is “restoring balance to the campus community and turning the Pub from a space solely dominated by mostly white male athletes, where women and people of color felt intimidated, to a space that is open to all members of this campus.” In her experience attending Pub Lunch this week, she said that turnout was “fantastic” and that “even though I felt a bit anxious before walking in, I saw a lot of women there which was empowering.”
Having read that Spectator report, I still was suspicious this was all a hoax, but this seems to be real, as evidenced by this editorial by the Editor-in-Chief Charles Dunst, calling the Pub Power movement to task:
As readers can clearly delineate from the front page of this week’s Spectator, notions of victimhood abound on this campus, even going as far as to infiltrate spaces, such as the Little Pub, which most students would consider to be mundane, apolitical, and in no way “problematic.” Yet, according to the group known as “PUB POWER”, the Pub’s lunch crowd is reflective of white, upper class, able-bodied male hegemony. My note here is not to apply a normative ruling on the protest itself, but instead to comment on and critique inconsistencies and broad applications of victimhood with which I take issue. While I am prepared for the promised-influx of irate, accusatory emails from dissenting students and faculty alike, the co-opting of my identity by a separate movement in the pursuit of aims I do not necessarily support is fundamentally misguided and worth addressing.
The contemporary campus cult of intersectionality asserts that oppression and discrimination results from an individual’s various social identities and that those with certain combinations of identities are more likely to be oppressed than others. While there is no doubt that a disabled black woman is likely to experience more oppression than an able-bodied white male, elite college students continue to apply the concept of intersectionality to their own activism in a way which derides the individual agency of the historically-oppressed peoples they aim to represent. PUB POWER is guilty on this charge….
There is no assertion that the white men of the Pub are in anyway homophobic or racist. Instead, it is apparently implied that white men, due to the intersectional hierarchy of victimhood, are, by default, oppressors. Their mere presence, despite the lack of any actions indicating bias, is, for the activists, apparently enough to trigger fears of inferiority, exclusion, and, ultimately, oppression….
The PUB POWER controversy at Hamilton is a microcosm of how identity politics are destroying campus life. Dunst got it right, campus intersectionality and identity activism is “cheap, tokenistic, and lazy.”
Getting back to President Wippman. How will he react to this protest movement? How would he react if a student group formed to protest too many non-white females eating at The Little Pub? Therein lies the problem on campuses, racism and sexism are tolerated when it comes from social justice warriors.
Maybe it’s all a hoax. Or a parody. Maybe we’ll all wake up and find out identity-politics and intersectional activism on campuses was just a bad dream.
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