Expression Enables Representation

The biggest national news this week is probably the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments over two cases involving gay marriage. Along with the issues of rights and privileges that a legally recognized marriage brings, those arguing on the side of marriage equality are also fighting for recognition that the LGBTQ is worthy of the same treatment the heterosexual community receives. At least partially, the gay marriage issue is an issue of equal representation.

The Fordham community has its own issues of representation we need to address. In our last print edition, The Observer covered the posibility of our faculty unionizing in reaction to allegations that the university does not take their concerns seriously.

This week, we returned to look at that subject from the point of view of non-tenured and non-tenure-track faculty members in Tim Gavan’s page two story, “Contingent Faculty Weigh Representation Issues.” Both tenured and tenure-track professors are concerned with meaningful representation in the university, ensuring that their interests are taken into account in university-wide decisions.

Students want to be seen and heard in university-wide decisions as well, as evidenced by Ramona Venturanza’s story on page one, “Students Critique Ram Café Changes.” Students recently took to a series hosted by the United Student Government to voice their opinions about the changes made to our cafeteria and offer suggestions for whatever vendor ends up with the university’s food service contract at the end of this year. Unlike in previous instances of fora held to invite student opinion, this time, students took advantage of their opportunity to have their interests represented.

Visibility and acceptance for members of the Fordham community are also areas of concern in student organizations’ projects and social events. The most infamous example of this would be the saga of Fordham administrators’ refusal to recognize “The Vagina Monologues” as a legitimate, artistic representation of important issues of sexual and domestic violence, as reported by Gabriela Mendez-Novoa in the page one article, “New Departments Support ‘Vagina Monologues.’” This year, more academic departments than ever have stepped in where the administration has failed to support the play.

One day, Fordham administrators may realize that in failing to recognize “The Vagina Monologues,” they are preventing students from demonstrating their passions for a serious cause. As some of our professors and fellow classmates have shown us, we have to take advantage of any opportunities to express ourselves if we want our college environment to reflect what we want and need to feel comfortable in our community. Furthermore, whenever we feel that our institutions are not representative of our concerns and values, it is imperative to find ways to make those in charge hear what we have to say.