Carey Maul ’21
January 11, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Trinity. While this is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of the women who pioneered coeducation at Trinity and paved the way for myself and my female peers, I also feel that this is as good a time as any to reflect on the campus climate for women at Trinity. In my eyes, the fiftieth anniversary should be both a celebration and a call to action to improve the way women are treated at this institution.
From an educational standpoint, I have always felt that I have been given the same opportunities and treatment in the classroom as my male peers; however, the area of campus life that feels the most hostile to me is Trinity’s social climate and nightlife. I have had experiences just about every weekend that have made me feel either unsafe or, dare I say, less than human, though now as I try to articulate these feelings into words, I am having a hard time. On nights out I have been struck with the sobering realization that even today, in 2019, I experience my life under the weight of my gender.
Like many others on this campus, my social circle spends our weekends at fraternity parties along Vernon Street, dancing and having fun after a long school week. The fun can be forced to an abrupt stop at any moment by a handsy drunk rogue or a frat boy standing symbolically elevated surveying the crowd of scantily clad girls to decide who is good-looking enough to enter. On top of all of this, Trinity is home to an outwardly sexist and heteronormative hookup culture, which is generally considered (as I have gathered from countless conversations in the girls’ bathroom in various campus buildings), to be one of the deepest flaws in Trinity’s social climate. It would also be naive not to mention the fact that college campuses (yes, including ours) are rampant with sexual assault cases, both reported and unreported, that leave victims in perhaps the very definition of a hostile climate.
My reason for pointing out these flaws and areas of hostility toward women at the college is not to take away from the celebration of half a century of coeducation, but rather to point out that allowing admission to women is not synonymous with equality. As far as a solution to these everyday inequalities, I think that the first step is solidarity and mutual empowerment between women across all races, financial standings, sexual orientations, and specific gender identities. We have a Trinity experience that is simply different from those of the men that sit in class beside us, and by acknowledging this fact and supporting one another we can work toward smoothing out some of those gaps and living in a social space that is more comfortable. This request is quite broad, but I believe it can be manifested in countless aspects of campus life: keeping an eye on one another to keep each other safe on nights out, spreading positivity and kindness amongst each other, or even something as simple as saying hello on the Long Walk. I truly feel that having each other’s backs and empowering each other is the first step for social remediation.
On a lighter note, I know some seriously badass women who frequent this campus, and I am closing this rant with a final request to gas each other up and empower, empower, empower. Happy fiftieth, ladies of Trinity.