Send the message that Aphrodite’s 10/31 column and the following responses are unacceptable representatives of Carleton’s community and values.

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Send the message that Aphrodite’s 10/31 column and the following responses are unacceptable representatives of Carleton’s community and values.

This petition had 471 supporters

Carolyn Raithel started this petition to Carleton Community and Friends

On October 31, Carleton’s student newspaper, The Carletonian, published a relationship advice column, “Ask Aphrodite,” purporting to help a male student enamored with his female physics TA. The columnist thought it appropriate to describe a physics TA as “super hot and smart,” singling out a very small subset of the Carleton community.  By printing this column, The Carletonian created a hostile working environment not just for the women who are hired by the department, but for TA’s across campus. This article did nothing to further our goals of making the physics department a welcoming space for students of all genders and it greatly contributed to the ostracization of women in STEM fields.

The article contains the sort of romantic advice that Carleton’s Gender and Sexuality Center, through their "Doing it Right" program, has been trying to combat for years. The suggestion that the student convey his attractions during a TA Session nonverbally through physical contact is in extreme contradiction to the principle of affirmative consent. Advising that this student carry out this program of harassment while the TA in question is obligated to provide courteous and professional assistance because of her Work-Study engagements is not only obscene, but is exactly the sort of attitude that has perpetuated gender disparity in the STEM fields. The suggestion in the postscript, that the student request a private tutoring session to continue his unsolicited advances, is gross on a nearly incomprehensible level, while Aphrodite’s advice that "if you concentrate really hard on the word 'sex' while looking into someone's eyes, they will get the message, and 9 times out of 10 they will instantly want you" made many of student workers in the department feel personally uncomfortable.

Concerned, several physics majors approached the Editors of The Carletonian with a letter highlighting our discomfort. While they did publish our letter, the Editors and Aphrodite also published responses. In their response, the Editors’ claimed to be “fostering compelling conversations,” without acknowledging the harm caused by the original article. Meanwhile, Aphrodite’s response was neither respectfully nor constructively engaged. Completely ignoring our complaints, Aphrodite chose to attack our “reading comprehension” and to take an incredibly condescending, defensive and dismissive tone. No apology was made.

Not only did the original article explicitly encourage workplace harassment, the responses from The Carletonian editors and Aphrodite indicate that they have failed to take our concerns seriously. They have dismissed our concerns as representative of a small group of physics majors who are unable to take a joke. We intend to show Aphrodite and The Carletonian Editors that the Carleton community does not think that the sexual harassment of student workers should be a punchline for a cheap joke. By signing this petition, you are sending the message that Aphrodite’s column and the following responses are unacceptable representatives of Carleton’s community and values.

Petition Closed

This petition had 471 supporters