“Men Working” sign in work truck on Saint Mary’s College campus sparks questions about gender equality. (Courtesy of Michael Shim)

Dear Editors:

I walked across the stage with my head held high, knowing that I was graduating from a college to be proud of. With its rich history and deep-rooted traditions, Saint Mary’s College embodies Lasallian Core Principles, such as “respect for all persons” and “inclusive community.”

Imagine my surprise, then, when not even one month later, I came across a sign on the back of a campus work truck that boldly stated, “MEN WORKING.” Indeed, men were working. But do women also not work on this campus here, too? Or was the sign attempting to say that any women working on this campus do so indoors or in the office, where they can do “women’s work”—that “real” work, such as any that might involve physical labor, should be left for the men?

Could this possibly be a true reflection of my college’s view on women? No, it cannot be! The college’s own website proudly states that my college has a Women’s and Gender Studies program; my college requires reading of Wollstonecraft and Nightingale for Seminar discussion; my college abides by Title IX and prohibits gender-based discrimination; my college opened its previously all-male doors to female students back in 1970; my college has a student population with a female majority—at 60 percent.

But it seems like none of that matters when anyone can come across signage such as the one I saw, with the college logo stamped on the door of the truck, as if my college would endorse that kind of message.  It is precisely these messages that divide our workplace, baffle our students, and scare our guests.  As such, it seems a more conscious effort on the part of my college to prevent this confusion is necessary—starting with the signs.

Nevertheless, my college’s Student Handbook states that Saint Mary’s College “is committed to recruiting and retaining a diverse student and employee population and does not discriminate in its admission of students, hiring of employees… on the basis of… sex/gender.” I sure do hope so, because I want to stay proud of my college—but also because I have yet to see one female employee from the Facilities Services department doing “men’s work.”

Sincerly,

Michael Shim

Class of 2017

This article has 4 comments

  1. This is a ridiculous article. Views and opinions like this give meaning to the right’s “snowflake” term. There are so many more important issues than a group of construction workers using a sign that says “men working”. Were there any females on staff for groundskeeping/maintenance that day? I’m almost positive there weren’t, so the sign is technically correct as it is in reference only to the group of maintenance techs. – alumni ’16

  2. Leonardo da Vinci

    Please, please tell me this is a leftover from the April 1 edition.

  3. It’s just a sign Michael Shim. Pick your battles, thus one is foolish. Also, you’re besmirching my name.

  4. You guys commenting are showing classic double standards. If a woman wrote this article you would probably love it and blindly agree with her. Since when is it wrong for a man to stand up against the oppression of women just because he’s not female? It’s not unmanly; it’s called being an ally, which is something our university’s Intercultural Center wants us to do. Imagine if Oskar Schindler hadn’t rebelled against his fellow Nazis by saving Jews from concentration camps. The Holocaust would have had a much higher death toll. Campus sexual assaults would occur much less frequently if more men had the balls to speak out against it. No oppressed group should have to be all alone in their fight for equality.

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