Yes, Women are Marginalized.

I was happy to hear about the Undergraduate Student Government’s resolution to encourage Ohio State’s administration to open a women’s center. I saw the vote was Aye: 37 Nay: 1 Abstain: 9 and was proud to see the way our undergraduate population was becoming more aware of male privilege and the gendered experiences we live every day. Feminism is a now mainstream concept on social media and in everyday life, but this wasn’t the case when I was an undergrad, so it was good to see progress.

But then I learned more. I learned that the debate over this proposal took two and half hours. The worst part I learned was that a USG representative said, on record, that women aren’t marginalized.

USG women not marginalized_annotated

It deeply saddens me to have to do this, but let me point out three very current and well-known events that illustrate women’s marginalization:

  1. Kesha’s legal bounds to her alleged abuser
  2. A Peer-Reviewed, NSF-funded study showing Males Under-Estimate Academic Performance of Their Female Peers in Undergraduate Biology Classrooms
  3. And, have you heard about the war on women’s healthcare? New Ohio legislation will severely limit access to healthcare for women in need.”This legislation will have devastating consequences for women across Ohio,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said.

    Sounds like marginalization to me.

Older woman holding protest sign reading "I cannot believe i still have to protest this shit"
(image via twitter @alsboy)

There are plenty of campus-based manifestations of women’s marginalization, too. 1 in 4 female undergrads on Ohio State’s campus report having been sexual assaulted, and 1 in 10 report having been raped. And while it might be the case that women are leading the USG, the glass ceiling is alive and well in the administration they send their resolutions to. We have strong allies in this group of leaders, but the lack of representation is its own source of marginalization of women at Ohio State.

We can’t get 77% of the way there, tune out to remaining disparities and say “good enough.” I have higher expectations for Ohio State’s undergraduates, and I encourage all students to hold their representatives accountable for how they speak and make decisions on the behalf of others. It is especially important that a representative for the Off-Campus Living Area is in tune with the issues that impact students living off campus, since so many of these incidents take place off of university property.

I know it’s cliché to say this around election time, but I am sincerely pleading the undergraduate student body to know their representatives and hold them accountable year-round. Part of adulthood in a democracy is knowing what people are saying when they speak on your behalf.

Grammar Neurotics at Ohio State, Rejoice!

Ohio State recently made the switch to Associated Press style. The AP Stylebook is the holy text in journalism school, so anyone coming from a news writing background was surely giddy over this announcement.

The best part is, Ohio State has its own digital AP Stylebook, at It includes the writer’s rules of the road, with supplemental tips tailored for Ohio State:

In writing style, things change. I love how social context makes language malleable and that AP style reflects that. The problem was, buying a new AP Stylebook every year was a serious pain (I finally recycled my 2008 print copy yesterday).

In the online stylebook, next to OSU pointers, are notes on when things have been updated. This comes in handy for someone like me who’s been out of the game for a few years. When I’m wrong I can at least redeem myself and say “ah! It was two words when I learned AP Style…”

So, next time you find yourself in one of the most dreaded office conflicts:

“Shouldn’t you spell that out?”

“Is it Blackberrys or BlackBerries?”

“Isn’t it a Master’s of Arts Degree?”

Just look to the stylebook. Breaking editorial stalemates since 1953.

Thoughts on the Presidential Profile

presidential search coverI’m cautiously optimistic about the public’s participation in Ohio State’s Presidential search.

Transparency is limited for obvious reasons. The best candidates for the role probably already have awesome jobs, and endangering those wouldn’t build the best relationships for recruitment.

This is understandable, but there is still a lot of mistrust on other levels. Some worry that the role will be filled by, say, a buddy of the Board of Trustees, or that the president has in fact already been selected and that the pomp and circumstance of this search is simply that.

I haven’t been at the university long enough to be that jaded. Honestly, though, I haven’t been moved to get involved in the process, either. Luckily a couple of the search committee members came to a PPCW meeting so I got a lot more information than I was proactively seeking out.

I learned in this meeting that the presidential search documents released by the university are actually worth our looking over–they’re as informative and transparent as this process is going to get. The Presidential Profile is framed as the result of the dozens of open forums, online submissions and other feedback opportunities the public has had to weigh in. More importantly, it provides valuable insight to institutional priorities and a tool for accountability:

Institutional Priorities

The themes referenced in this document are not at all surprising to anyone familiar with Ohio State. But there are some indicators that outline how these values are prioritized.

Tip for non-HR pros: read the profile with special attention to what’s listed as Must Demonstrate vs. Must Have Record of vs. Should

“Must have demonstrated record of”: The new president cannot not have these qualities. Signifies top priorities.

  • a record of successfully leading a complex organization
  • a record of enhancing diversity
  • a record of strong collaboration
  • a history of engaging diverse communities with higher education (outreach)
  • a demonstrated record of sound fiscal management

Most everything else is listed as “Must Demonstrate,” without the historical record reference. Not as tangible when you’re looking for demonstrated understanding, commitment, and personal characteristics like “ethical” and “compassionate.” But still stronger rhetoric than Should.

“Should”: Much squishier, yes?

  • should have a record of significant fundraising
  • should be familiar with trends in higher education that will affect the university’s future
    Note: it’s a big deal that the president, according to this doc, doesn’t have to come from academia. Other presidential searches don’t even consider candidates from outside of higher ed.

It’s good to know priorities for the institution where you work/live/study. Being in one department and only hearing great things about your area, having the Provost visit to say you should be better supported, etc can give you one impression of how your unit is prioritized. Stacking values up against one another and really seeing how choices are made at this level could better explain the kind of activity you see in your everyday work.


Having access to these required qualities means we can score the selected candidate on each. If a president is chosen and they have not demonstrated a record of enhancing diversity, for example, we can raise hell about it and have structure to support our argument.

This still seems kind of fluffy, I know. You’re all, “So what, little-old-me writes a letter to the Board of Trustees?” But this could help university administrators, government officials and other important decision makers who can work to protect your interests as well. Knowing who is making the selection and what criteria it’s based upon is valuable information that holds people accountable for protecting the interests outlined.


Bottom Line

The next president at Ohio State could help transform this place into just what you want it to be, maintain some version of the status quo, or wreck it. Staying involved and informed is important, even when transparency seems elusive and power unfairly distributed. This only emphasizes the need for everyday students, faculty and staff to make the best of the resources available to them for priority awareness and accountability.

What do you think about the Presidential Profile? Any other nuances or interesting pieces that stood out to you?