Alex Sheldon, lesbian activist, wins Whittier College
Homecoming Mr. Whittier election
Whittier College's football team, enjoying a relatively good season, and looking good to best its Homecoming opponent, CMS, was instead upended by its own student body's sense of humor. Students preferred lesbian activist Alex Sheldon to three male Society members for the annual Whittier Homecoming Mr. Whittier title. The 2007 Whittier football team, feeling their upholding of tradition was being mocked by their fellow students, struggled before the season's Homecoming and biggest crowd, not only losing to CMS, but failing to win another game thereafter - until tradition inspired a redemptive victory over Occidental College for 'The Shoes' to close the 2007 season on a redemptive note.
'The Shoes', like Homecoming, epitomize all that's good about tradition at Whittier College. Given the constant decline in quality at Whittier College, positive traditions may well be said to be the best aspect of the College, and are certainly last ditch bulwarks against mediocrity. Poet running back great Myron Claxton, who was drafted the next year by the Giants, had to play in his street boots because his football shoes were stolen shortly before the 1939 season Whittier - Occidental game. Claxton, the story goes, found his football shoes on the Occidental sideline after the game, which Whittier won despite the theft, and took them back to Whittier. Claxton's recovered shoes were, the story continues, bronzed by the Franklin Society in 1946, and since then have been taken back to the campus of the winner of the annual Whittier - Occidental game, which dates back to 1895. It is just such positive traditions as Homecoming and the competition for The Shoes that distinguish a school, private or public, that make students part of all that has gone before as well as of this historical moment, that make us feel special, proud to be, in this case, Poets, which younger students then want for themselves, and so on.
Change is necessary to evolution, and so it is our experience with tradition that is the rock upon which we withstand endless buffeting by and are thereby enabled to adapt to change. Alex Sheldon ran a charming campaign, but it was the wrong campaign toward her objectives. Alex is a lesbian and she wants to be accepted, no matter her sexual preference, as the equal of anyone else. That Alex feels the need to be accepted not just by her friends, but by the whole student body of Whittier College and anyone within hailing distance thereof, is Alex's need, and that's okay. Everyone's free to seek acceptance by others. The problem here isn't Alex's preference, or her seeking acceptance, it is the completely unnecessary damage done to tradition by Alex's campaign, her apologists, the administration, and the student body as usual voting for what's funny, not what's important, that are problems. There are a practically infinite number of possible ways for Alex Sheldon to win the hearts and minds of other human beings, for herself and for other BGLAD-self-identified students, that do not entail damaging one of the too few still positive traditions distinguishing Whittier College. Alex made a mistake, and because it was amusing, and because Alex is well-liked while the Societies are generally disliked, the student body played along.
No one should misinterpret the Mr. Whittier election results. Scarcely more than 50 Whittier College students were willing to go to New Orleans to help those without a roof over their heads, without belongings, without work, and some of those students went to party rather than help anyone. The Mr. Whittier election certainly wasn't the Whittier College student body turning activist en masse for spoiled yet insecure lesbian recognition and advancement, nor was it ultimately funny.
Adam Steinbaugh, while still ASWC President, in defense of Alex Sheldon, was quoted in Quaker Campus as saying of Homecoming, "The whole event is supposed to be a circus anyway." Steinbaugh's lack of a true Poet heart and lack of political acumen continue to stun. Not a single upholder of Whittier traditions agrees with Steinbaugh's statement. The truth is that Alex Sheldon being crowned as Homecoming's Mr. Whittier trivialized tradition, reduced it to a circus, cast us adrift, and deeply disappointed, deeply hurt, all those who cherish Whittier College traditions, from alumni present to this year's football team.
If Alex Sheldon had been more thoughtful, if she had rightly valued the tradition upon which she stands, that gave her life, protected and nurtured her, that educated her, that makes it possible for Alex to freely express herself as a lesbian seeking acceptance, she would have seen any number of ways to seek acceptance without harming tradition, and so without causing those who cherish positive traditions like Homecoming to defend them from needless damage. The resultant anti- and pro-lesbian Mr. Whittier Facebook groups are both understandable, and are both only half-right and that for the wrong reasons.
Contrary to the so-called politically correct view, it is Alex Sheldon and her supporters, not the defenders of tradition, who have made the fundamental mistake. No one should expect students, and let's be honest, most certainly including athletes at a small third headed for fourth tier private liberal arts college that's being reduced to taking what students it can get, to defend tradition elegantly. The point is that students, even at Whittier College, have enough common sense that they aren't about to throw tradition away for no one knows what, nor believe claptrap like gender, or sexual preference, being a "social construction", when it's obvious to every excited teenager, from dropout to honors student, that their sexuality has everything to do with their unique earliest sexual experiences summed up in their individual sexual fantasies, and nothing to do with society, other than as a mix of opportunities and obstacles to acting out sexual fantasies originating in adolescence. This is blowback for teaching BS, Whittier College.
Alex Sheldon has also needlessly damaged the BGLAD agenda we accept she believes she's advancing. We are not suggesting that Alex intended to harm anyone or anything, but she damaged her causes, personal and social, nevertheless, by her campaign for Mr. Whittier, and damaged Whittier College by winning. Polarization is the opposite of consensus-building. It will take a considerable period of time before the polarization of the Whittier College community begun by Alex Sheldon's homecoming king campaign can be put in the past and more thoughtful activists can, again, begin the process of rebuilding the consensus for acceptance of everyone regardless of their sexual preference, and the upholding of positive traditions at Whittier College, of putting it all back together, again. The anti- and pro-Mr. Whittier Facebook groups show just how real the damage both Whittier College and the BGLAD agenda are suffering in the wake of Alex Sheldon's campaign.
"During...2000-2001...there was an increase in hate crimes toward gay students. ...the student body suspected the Orthogonian Society as its president and resident in the Orthogonians' house had just come out openly, had been forced to move out of the O house..."
A "strongly suspected hate crime was the spontaneous explosion of an Area Co-ordinator's vehicle in a residence hall parking lot. The A C was openly gay."
"Numerous (gay) students...received hate calls at the dorm..."
"Two years later at a community event on campus, an audience member shouted "faggot" during one of the performances and was instantly slapped in the face by [another] audience member in front of him who told him off publicly. He was promptly escorted out of the audience by Campus Safety and I believe had to do community service."
As a BGLAD leader on campus, Alex Sheldon should be aware of the harassment and sometimes violent actions against BGLAD's constituency at Whittier College. A lot of progress had been made since those incidents toward a consensus that sexual preference is not an issue at Whittier anymore, until Alex's ill-advised Mr. Whittier campaign.
Activists like Alex Sheldon seek to question authority and to act socio-politically for what they perceive as positive social change. Former Weather Underground leader and now Northwestern School of Law professor and Director of that outstanding university's Children and Family Justice Center, Bernardine Dohrn, once observed that "We can't wait to act until we get ourselves together, anymore than we can get ourselves together without acting." While that's true, the consequences of our mistakes, especially for others, can only be our responsibility. Dohrn had to spend time in prison between her early mistakes and later redemptive labors. Where will Alex Sheldon be when the BGLAD students who come after her at Whittier have to bear the brunt of Alex's mistake, and have to sacrifice just to get back to go?
It's said, sometimes generously, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Helping rebuild low-lying New Orleans wards is obviously a good idea in Alex's view, but when only the French Quarter of what's now New Orleans remains above water as sea level rises, well, being thoughtful is good, but being more thoughtful is better. Social action can make future situations worse as well as better.
Alex Sheldon along with everyone else at the school would do well to treasure still viable Whittier College traditions - because they're an endangered pillar of the Whittier College edifice. Hazing will be stopped at Whittier College, soon, despite the current administration's policy of allowing hazing to continue while denying it exists. Kind of reminds one of J. Edgar Hoover, who proved gays, like females, like all so-called minorities, can betray just as outrageously as any straight guy, while running the FBI claiming there was no organized crime in the United States, fielding agent provocateurs against law abiding protest groups, on and on. Whittier College Societies will stop breaking laws or they will be put out of business, even with administration backing. It's not a question of proving allegations against Whittier College and its Societies, only of who will be the ones to file lawsuits if hazing and harassment persist. Still viable traditions have become very few in number at Whittier, and the College has failed to inspire students to plant any new ones.
These days, even annual events like the Homecoming Dance are bungled. After a trying day on campus, one could at least enjoy unwinding at the Homecoming Dance, but it was learned at the door, only if one was over 21 years of age. How many Whittier College students are over 21 years of age? The way Whittier College Homecoming 2007 went, it wasn't even possible to be surprised by being kept out of your own dance.
Whittier College President Sharon Herzberger and the Associated Students of Whittier College both failed completely to facilitate circumnavigation of the needless rancor inevitably arising from Alex's Mr. Whittier mistake. Whittier College, quick to act, even unethically and criminally, when it perceives any possible spotlighting of its mistakes, sat dumbstruck as Alex gave the College back its own drivel, "If you learn anything at Whittier College, it's that gender is a social construction." And anyone's surprised when a jock with coordinated obscene gesture replies, "Construct this!"? The ASWC now ex-President Adam Steinbaugh, as usual, was so preoccupied with adding something more to his resume, this time his fantasy of a Mr. Whittier title, that he was stuck with accepting and even defending the election as it shaped up. More than ever, politics makes strange bedfellows.
President Herzberger had the position, but not the successful administrator qualities, to either help a student avoid making a mistake, the cost of which it will take some time to fully assess, or to guide the bureaucratic machinery of a small private liberal arts college to a reasonable conclusion in everyone's best interests, including the BGLAD community's, including Alex Sheldon's and of the traditions that make Whittier special, if it is special after all. Sharon Herzberger seems determined to run Whittier College down into the irretrievably mundane, to cast away any remaining sense of tradition. It's difficult to imagine a single alumnus at Homecoming 2007 going home feeling better about the state of their alma mater, including BGLAD graduates.
The last incarnation of the ASWC was dominated by Adam Steinbaugh's UCLA Law School application resume fantasies. Ah, yes, now the booting of a couple of deadbeats' cars, instead of letting them be more appropriately towed away by the City, becoming a big issue when there are real issues needing address, is understandable. And where was Quaker Campus, you ask? Quaker Campus staff has obviously been misled to believe that a story from a proven liar is fit to print nonetheless. Adam Steinbaugh's fantasy, or resume, would give Adam credit for finding applicable law, and, in his capacity as ASWC President, shepherding through the booting policy change, neglecting to mention the fact that everyone but him would be worse off for that consequential change.
Likewise, the muddled student rights bill not only needs editing, but appears to promise problems more certainly than improvements. Adam it happens won't be around to have to deal with those problems. And guess who'll take credit for co-authoring the rights bill and shepherding it through ASWC on his resume, no matter the result? If Alex Sheldon wanted to count the votes of those who approve of her, as a lesbian activist and whatever else, she should've run for ASWC, President instead Mr. Whittier, that'd have been worth another semester, wouldn't it? Alex still wouldn't be close to as old as Adam Steinbaugh was during his term in office.
President Herzberger failed to discreetly reason with Alex Sheldon - Sharon could've invited Alex to join the President on one of her famous walks - or to address the problems presented by Alex's Mr. Whittier campaign in any way in anyone's let alone in everyone's best interests.
It seems to take chutzpah to claim that this school, that not only allows students to do pretty much anything and get away with it, but, more, unethically and even criminally aids and abets student misconduct and crimes, is a tyranny over students, but it is so true. Whittier College students make a bargain with the devil: student free speech for the College's criminal negligence and cover ups, and this deal leads inexorably to tyranny. At Whittier College, looking out for Number One is the only lesson, and that's wrong. There are student and other victims of Whittier College, we're meeting more of them all the time, but a student rights bill will help the College's victims not at all; that will it appears come from the inevitable investigations of misconduct and crimes, corruption, at Whittier College. Fortunately for us, we can't find friends like Whittier College.
"...the (anti-Whittier College administration) graffiti... the (administration had it) cleaned up before the Q C came out. I never even saw it. lol. you might say that they're quick to cover things up"
The rights of Whittier College students will be well upheld when the ASWC and Quaker Campus are made responsible to the overwhelmingly independent student body, instead of to the Societies and the school's administrators. Until the student body stops making a joke of and instead starts making self-enlightened use of their rights, and their power, which certainly includes running and voting in campus elections, but lies ultimately in going public, in the exercise free speech, threatened or not, protected or not, and in the power of the purse, than in any conceivable regulation or even statute, the laughs will continue to be at the student body's expense - because it's Whittier College students' money the ASWC gives out, not the student government's money, not the Societies' money, not the College's money. The drunkest group of students is deciding how your money's being allocated, and they decide vote after vote to give your money to the Societies, to themselves, for their mediocre and sometimes dangerous parties, which Whittier College evidently imagines relieves the College of their obvious responsibility for providing memorable events for those students stuck in out of the way Whittier.
"At the beginning of last year i wanted to join [a Whittier College Society] but as i got to see how they really were i decided that it wasn't the best thing for me. My honest opinion is that Societies are all about partying and getting drunk and I'm not all about that."
Effectively boycotting student elections and casting votes as part of a big joke are resulting in embarrassment after embarrassment, a student newspaper held captive, like the ASWC, by the Societies and the administration, a medieval view of information distribution at a contemporary college, in unethical and criminal conduct, in mediocre events, and ultimately in Whittier College students paying more and more for degrees that are worth less and less. So who's the big joke on?
So far in the 2007-2008 academic year, everyone has been preoccupied with Adam Steinbaugh's personal agenda, needless damage to Homecoming tradition and tradition generally, and to gender and sexual preference equality on campus, with overdue Erotic City death rattles, with issues that should never have been issues. Meanwhile, ASWC and Homecoming elections continue to embarrass, not serve the best interests of, Whittier students, and the planned further erosion of the increasingly falsely portrayed Whittier College experience proceeds apace, and this is the only thing President Sharon Herzberger is leading.
Parking's worse, you say? Dorm conditions are no better? Overcrowding continues? Dorm resident misconduct and crimes continue quite out of control? Whittier degree values continue to decline, while their costs continue to rise? The unsettled cases of Whittier College victims taken up by this website continue to shame the College and demand settlement? Crime rates on and off campus continue to rise? An armed assailant could confront you on campus as well as off campus? Whittier College students continue to run abnormally high risks of illness as well as assault? Hazing continues at Whittier College, despite students in California now going to jail for hazing convictions? Sexual assault complaints are discouraged? Campus Safety continues to be compromised by Society member employees? School employees with conflicts of interest aren't discharged by the College? Is a Whittier College student going to have to die in a hazing incident, or a rape or other victim of crime is going to have to, or his or her surviving family members are going to have to, stand up and sue the College, before the College, led by President Sharon Herzberger, finally acts?
The exploitation of Hispanic students continues despite exposure of Whittier College's Hispanic-Serving Institution scam?
Academic misconduct continues to be allowed and even protected, breeding disdain for everyone and everything in impressionable students, tomorrow's leaders?
Whittier College continues to stonewall or react to problems rather than solve them. How much did it cost Whittier College, including student families, for the College to go to federal court seeking to prevent the American Bar Association from doing one of its jobs, deciding whether law schools receive, keep, or lose accreditation, in the imagined special case of Whittier Law School, and to prevent the ABA from informing anyone, including prospective student families, as to Whittier Law School's status? Of course, such a creepy request could only result in a denial and lecture by a federal district judge. And Sharon Herzberger and the Trustees of Whittier College and its Attorney Ernie Park didn't get that from the git go! The ABA decided in 2007 to continue the probation status it imposed on Whittier Law School in 2005 - until yet another review scheduled for 2009, as reported first by whittiergate.com.
There are so many issues vital to Whittier College's character and future that need to be addressed, now... So where is Whittier College's leader when both Whittier College and Whittier Law School are headed for the rocks? Donde esta, Sharon? Where is a representative ASWC? Where is the student's advocate, Quaker Campus? Where are Whittier College students capable of acting in their own enlightened self-interest?
NEW: 2008 Homecoming AKA Whittier Weekend
The 2008 Whittier College Homecoming events featured a big loss by Coach B. J. Hammer's football team - on the health and safety and environmental hazard artificial turf (the silent killer) that was supposed to give the Poets a big advantage (and instead brought critical injuries and losses, in addition to exposures to lead, silica, carcinogens, etc.); the crowning of Kings and Queens, or Whittier's rather ridiculous Politically Correct Mr. and Ms. Whittier - the new Homecoming Court election system appears to have precluded another lesbian Mr. Whittier, even during a term on campus when the BGLAD (Bisexual Gay Lesbian, Et Al) crowd and the College's administrators, faculty and staff members were working hard to defeat California's Proposition 8, which passed; and not one but two Homecoming Dances snubbing students at their own Homecoming weekend.
Incredibly, but at Whittier College expectedly, last year's abysmal treatment of undergraduates - the overwhelming majority of Whittier College students - taking money from students under 21 and then refusing them entrance to their own Homecoming Dance, was repeated, and not at one Homecoming dance but at two!! What is the problem here?
The problem with Whittier College Homecoming is that it's not for Whittier College students! So-called Whittier Weekend is all about the College's marketing and endowment plans, which don't include you, unless you're getting older and at least somewhat successful, in which case the College tries to get some money out of you before you get busted. (Even if you're dying, the College has doubtlessly offered to help you give whatever you've earned after paying off your degree-related indebtedness to Whittier College.) But if you're a Whittier College student, now, that means among other things that you or most of those you associate with are under 21 years of age, so you just aren't in the Whittier Weekend plan.
Whittier Weekend is about raising money, is not a real Whittier College Homecoming. If Whittier College students want a real Homecoming weekend, then Whittier College students are going to have to put that event on themselves - because Whittier College is just not interested in providing, and simply isn't smart enough to provide, a memorable Homecoming weekend for Whittier students, who would treasure that memory and, therefore, be more willing to give to the College in later years - without having to be harassed by Whittier College representatives.
Whittier College needs to listen to its current students, or all that's done now will be undone. Whittier students have made clear that they want some diversification of events - American football just isn't any overwhelmingly most popular sport anymore, just can't carry a Homecoming weekend alone anymore - and to be welcomed into their own Homecoming Dance, no matter their age. Whittier College students want their Homecoming weekend back! Stop excluding Whittier students from their own Homecoming events! Whittier College: Stop alienating Whittier College students!
As for the student press, Quaker Campus, the 2008-2009 staff has been muzzled, which is a particular loss to us all because this staff has more vigor and more intelligence going for it and us than any staff in recent memory. Those qualities, together with the conscience of at least one editor, at Whittier College, are indeed what got this Q C staff muzzled. That editor with a conscience questioned the wisdom of installing well-known health and safety and environmental hazard artificial turf on campus, and that was it for free press rights at Whittier College, yet again.
And Whittier College student government? Steve Addezio, a student rep on the Whittier board of trustees, has evidently been too busy accepting alleged honors like a Nixon Fellowship and wasting time at the GOP convention in Minnesota, where John McCain still showed no humanity, no remorse for being part of taking the lives of millions of innocent Vietnamese women and children as well as men, so few of them combatants, when Steve should've been trying to make sure that his constituents, Whittier College students, have a free press fulfilling its mission, advocating student and community best interests, that the Stadium artificial turf be removed and disposed of at a licensed hazardous waste facility, and that the silent killer turf be replaced by natural grass, and that students enjoy a memorable Homecoming weekend, among other issues vital to student health and safety, and pursuit of happiness.
Where has ASWC President Dan Strauss been? Busy changing the name of ASWC, instead of busy looking out for his constituents? And where have Blakely Rice and David Barr, Co-Chairs of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, been, other than asleep at the starting blocks? Hey, Blakely and David: There's a silent killer in the stadium! Nice job protecting student and community interests.
And Whittier College students? Look at the number of incoming freshmen any fall, and then look at the number of graduates any spring. That difference tells a story, a very, very sad and true story indeed.
See 'Whittier College Reacts to whittiergate Spotlighting' page UPDATE to see U21 Whittier College students finally getting something like a Homecoming Dance!
From whittiergate: You're welcome...
We spoke too soon...
The 2011-2012 academic year saw the termination of Homecoming as a Whittier College tradition. There was no Homecoming Dance, no Mr. and Ms. Whittier let alone a Homecoming King and Queen. The entire former Homecoming Weekend has been turned into a squeeze alumni for contributions weekend. There's no dance, but there's a Casino Night. Casino Night did Alfred Villalobos and Nancy Ling Perry and countless other former Whittier students a lot of good. How many millions of dollars in gambling debts has Villalobos declared as part of his bankruptcy filing? Yes, Nancy Ling Perry really was a topless blackjack dealer between leaving Whittier College and being shot down by the LAPD as she fled a besieged Symbionese Liberation Army so-called safe house.
The seemingly wanton, and certainly senseless and counterproductive, destruction of Homecoming leaves Whittier College with a worn down rock and a pair of bronzed football shoes, the latter on display at Occidental College more often than on the Whittier campus, as the faintest reminders of Whittier tradition, of what made Whittier College special. Now Whittier's just a school that costs way too much for what one gets. Those administrators who conspired to eradicate inclusive tradition, the repeated shared rituals over generations making them one, will find that they've destroyed the wellspring of alumni caring and generosity, that tradition was the golden goose that enriched Whittier College.
Starting point for Bernardine Dohrn: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernardine_Dohrn
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