Staff Editorial: Acknowledge The Vagina* Monologues

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Staff Editorial: Acknowledge The Vagina* Monologues

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The production of “The Vagina* Monologues” at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), featuring student-written pieces, closed earlier this month. As has become routine, the mere existence of the play has prompted another year of moral reevaluation at this acclaimed institution. This year, “The Monologues” discussed sexual violence, misogyny, gender and sexual identity — all topics relevant to Fordham’s diverse and wide-ranging student body. This innovative production, however, is not enough to garner official recognition by the university: although “The Monologues” has been performed annually at Fordham for the past 13 years, Fordham has never financially supported the production. This lack of support is an implicit show of disapproval to “The Monologues,” which speaks to topics which the university has infamously failed to address.

Fordham’s silence speaks volumes. It is clear that, in our recent social dialogue surrounding sexual assault and violence, survivors should be heard and supported, not disavowed. One need not look further than a smartphone or a nearby television screen to understand the culture of sexual harassment in our country. There is no need to continue the dysfunction in a school that touts its high moral standards.

It is important, now more than ever, for Fordham to support “The Vagina* Monologues” and the various topics that the show addresses. By remaining quiet, Fordham negates the importance of subject matter of “The Monologues.” Fordham’s administration should be alarmed that its students are more comfortable telling their story to strangers from a stage than they are talking to administrative authorities who are trained to handle incidents of sexual assault. Fordham should see this as a wake-up call for administrators and other staff members to take students and their stories seriously, instead of brushing them off, as if their trauma is neither valid nor important.

Fordham’s actions only further point to a disheartening trend among universities across the country who fail to uphold Title IX, a law which requires and aims to enforce accountability —  something Fordham denies as long as “The Monologues” are performed without its support. Jesuit values are integral to this university’s mission, yet Fordham fails to uphold them through its inability to foster social awareness. Enforcing this ignorance forces students to take extra steps and, sometimes, overstep university rules and policies in order to inform and protect others — only further continuing this toxic cycle.

In addition to discussing students’ personal experiences with sexual assault and violence, “The Monologues” tackles another topic on which Fordham has been mum: gender identity. Fordham has yet to acknowledge transgender students’ identities officially or offer trans-inclusive housing. The crew of Fordham’s “The Monologues” has adapted its production to be more inclusive, and the administration should, in turn, follow suit. Not acknowledging the needs of transgender students not only alienates these students, but also forces them to feel as though they are not valued in the same way that other students are. After all, one of their only platforms is a non-school-sanctioned production.

Despite Fordham’s claims that it supports all of its students, there are many among us who feel unheard and unsupported by the administration. It is important to notice who and what the university does and does not endorse, as Fordham must be held accountable for supporting the entirety of the student body. As this semester comes to a close, the Observer hopes for the Fordham community — students, faculty and administrators — to return next fall with a common goal. After 13 years of performing “The Fordham Vagina* Monologues” unendorsed, the student body deserves a university that finally supports and defends them. In the meantime, to the Fordham students who are struggling to be heard within the community: we stand with you both on and off the stage.