Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Faculty advisors

UChicago's in the news all the time! Is this what comes of having up and become a super-elite college? First there's Katie Dries of Jezebel, reporting on the school's issues with sexual assault on campus. (Upsetting but not, I must admit, surprising.) Then there's Dan Savage getting accused of a "hate crime" by a language-policing student. While I have, I promise, oh so many thoughts on all of this, here's the part of Savage's post that jumped out at me for personal reasons:

But I do want to quote one piece at The Maroon—which has written numerous pieces about my alleged "hate crime," the demand by QUIP for an apology from the IOP (which the IOP, to its credit, refused to cough up) and QUIP's demand that the IOP promise to "censor" all future IOP guests who might use "hate speech" (not gonna happen, says IOP)—all without bothering to contact me for my side of the story. (That's not how we do journalism out here in the real world,Maroon. Please consult your faculty advisors. You do have faculty advisors, right?) 
In my time at the Maroon, I don't remember there being faculty advisors. Faculty who wanted to publish articles in the Maroon and got in a tizzy if not permitted to do so, yes, that would happen. (It was like, guys, send your thing to a real newspaper and they'll probably publish it! Not so for us undergrads!) But advisors? It's not a university with a journalism school or program, so I'm not sure where these advisors would be coming from. The Maroon wasn't a class or an apprenticeship. It was (although I suspect this has changed) a smoke-filled, hamburger-grease-coated basement office where the blind led the blind.

In any case, as someone with some insights into how that paper is (well, was) run, my first guess was, they didn't contact Savage because they didn't think in a million years he'd get back to them. It's one thing to aggressively interview school administrators, but visiting famous speakers? People an undergrad wouldn't think could possibly care what's written about them in the school paper? But now I see they did manage to get a statement from the other famous speaker, so, who knows.


Matt said...

The only thing that Savage should have added was that he was (at least mostly) _mentioning_ the word "tranny" and not _using_ it. Not knowing or understanding the use/mention distinction leads to lots of problems, including looking like an idiot in this case! (Not Savage, but the person who got offended.)

Miss Self-Important said...

I think every student org technically had a faculty advisor, but that person had no function except to be a name on the form used to apply for student government funding. I'm not even sure that schools w/ journalism programs have interventionist adult guidance in their student newspapers. That's kind of a relic of high school.

Phoebe said...


I guess the counterargument would be, the n-word. Someone non-black using it even to discuss its use would be considered insensitive. I also wondered about the "off the record" thing - such events always end up being fair game, even if ideally they wouldn't be. (Someone I was discussing this with mentioned Romney's "47%" gaffe.)

But this did seem a different story, in part because, as Savage has explained on his podcast as well, this isn't exactly a word that everyone - even everyone trans - agrees is a slur.

What seems to have happened is, sensitivity around trans issues has become the forefront of political correctness, and has taken on a life of its own above and beyond what actual transpeople seek out. So it's not that people who are trans are hypersensitive. It's that demonstrating one's sensitivity on this issue has become the ultimate in sanctimony. Whether this helps or hurts transpeople is its own question.

Phoebe said...


That sounds right.