Blog sparks controversy

A weblog with intent "to determine the number one hottest female at SPU" has ignited heated debate among faculty and students in the last few days.

The blog, titled "SPU May Madness," features 64 women students in a competitive bracket, chosen to represent four different regions of campus.

"One competitor will rise to be crowned SPU’s hottest," the blog said.

Profiles and photos of 27 women are featured on the Web site along with a notice that reads "…to be continued."

Forty-eight responses had been posted to the blog’s comment section as of midnight, in addition to separate messages on each woman’s individual profile.

The responses to the profiles are among the most inflammatory, with comments such as "She is hott… I wanna do her" and "I think its stupid to get your panties in a bunch over womens rights when they are exercising their right to show themselves off."

Thirty of the responses were posted between 11 a.m. and midnight yesterday alone.

Several of the women are unaware of their presence on the Web site, students have said, and some of their photos have appeared to have been taken from their http://facebook.com profiles.

Dean of Students Dr. Jeff Jordan said that a faculty member first informed Vice President of Academic Affairs Les Steele over the weekend, and discussion has since begun on FacNet, an e-mail discussion group for only faculty members.

Jordan said the female students mentioned on the blog have been contacted and asked if they gave permission. As of yesterday evening, he had not received any responses.

"I hope students are chewing on this and thinking about what it really means," Jordan said. "My hope is that this will generate serious dialogue about this kind of issue."

Dr. Jennifer McKinney, associate professor of sociology and director of women’s studies said the blog presents a humanity issue by dividing among social groups.

"It’s objectifying a group based on physical traits," McKinney said. "It reinforces the idea that we are what we look like."

She said that when Christ came and died, he removed the lines that divide us from male and female, black and white, able and disabled.

"Some see this as harmless or fun," McKinney said, "It’s frightening that this is seen as OK."

Dr. Ed Smyth, professor of educational ministries addressed the issue at senate on Monday night.

"A couple of women faculties are aware of the bracket system," he said. "The word I would use is ‘irate.’"

Smyth also said that, in his opinion, the proper response to the blog’s creators should be quite strict — "anything short of killing."

Chris Schumacher, senator of campus housing and apartments, said he was "utterly appalled."

"If anyone knows who is responsible for this, please ask them to take it down," Schumacher said.

The "SPU Madness Committee" formed a http://facebook.com group to promote the blog, but the group’s creator removed it yesterday morning.

Senate plans to make a public statement next week.

"We are going to be passing a resolution condemning the works of this group," Kristen Eddings, senator of social and behavioral sciences, said in an e-mail.

A student-led rally is being planned for Friday from noon to 2 p.m. in Martin Square to "condemn this website, but to also discuss this problem on campus in a broader sense," said senior Kristina DeMain, the student organizer. Dr. Kevin Neuhouser, professor of sociology, has offered to speak at the event.

"What we hope to do is educate people that women are being objectified," DeMain said. "It’s anti-human."

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Title: Blog sparks controversy | Author: Alissa Baier | Section: News | Published Date: 2006-04-26 | Internal ID: 5002