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Students protest Pride Week shirt

Megan O'Neill | Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A handful of Saint Mary’s students protested the College’s Pride Week T-shirt Monday in the LeMans Hall Lobby and in front of Madeleva Hall. The student group, named Women Objectively Moving to Eradicate Negligence of Knowledge, handed out flyers criticizing the shirt for failing to represent the student body accurately and asked students to sign a petition requesting an apology from the Student Activities Board, which oversees the shirt design and sales. SAB sells the T-shirt on campus each fall semester during Pride Week, which includes various activities to celebrate Saint Mary’s. This year’s shirt, which continues to be sold in the student bookstore, takes inspiration from a vintage Vermouth print ad. The original image depicts an elegant woman dressed in a white gown holding a tiny glass of wine in a gracefully extended hand. The version on the Saint Mary’s shirt shows the woman holding a small silver bell in place of the wine glass and the phrase “Saint Mary’s College, Women with Knowledge” borders the image. Since Spirit Week, which began Sept. 27, the shirt has generated mixed reactions. Several students created their own version of the shirt using markers and puffy paint. Protestor Sinnamon Wolfe said she disliked the shirt’s image, which prompted her to wear an alternative version during Pride Week. “I don’t find it personally represents me because I come from a blue-collared family, a working-class family,” she said. “It is very insulting to me because I want to participate in the pride week activity, and I couldn’t because I didn’t feel included in that activity.”Junior Lisa Kuzmicz said she has purchased a Pride Week shirt the last three years but chose not to this year.”The whole point of the pride shirt is to unite the student body and to have something everyone would be proud to wear,” Kuzmicz said. Both students said that although some may find the shirt cute, they feel such a description lacks understanding. “It may be a cute image but when it is a shirt that is trying to represent our college the fact that it is cute is irregardless because it’s still not inclusive,” said Wolfe.Jennifer Hernandez, who organized the protest, said students were not trying to devalue the work of student government.”We are not attacking the artist, we are not attacking one specific person,” Hernandez said. “Our objective is to raise awareness at Saint Mary’s.”Student government has made efforts to address student concern about the T-shirt. Board of Governance women’s issues commissioner Katie Kelly hosted a Nov. 4 identity forum where attendees discussed the image of the college. At a Student Activities board meeting Thursday several of the shirt protestors were given the opportunity to discuss opinions, but according to Hernandez officers stopped the meeting as the discussion became heated. In a student-wide e-mail sent Friday, SAB apologized “for any program, event, or material produced this past semester that may have offended you, the student community.”The e-mail did not specifically address the shirt. Student body president Sarah Catherine White said she and other student leaders are in the midst of evaluating the request for an apology. “They deserve sincerity, and we are going through all the steps to make sure the sincerity is there, and we want them to know this,” said White.