A Campus Divided

Students have already begun taking sides over the controversial issue of whether or not a performance of “The Vagina Monologues” should be allowed on campus.

Senior Alisha Brizicky first presented her desire to have a production of the play at St. John’s in September, but administrators would not allow the play to be produced as a student activity, claiming it is too controversial. The student body is divided on the issue, with some agreeing with the administration’s decision while others argue that the play is an effective means of promoting women’s rights.

Sophomore Chris Imparato, a proponent of bringing “The Vagina Monologues” to campus, understands why the administration would be hesitant.

“I can see why Fr. Maher and Dr. Rodriguez wouldn’t want the controversial play to come on campus,” he said. “But the people who are offended by the play just don’t have to go see it.”

Sophomore Steph Dixon echoed these sentiments, commenting, “The play could be a great eye-opener for many students. Those who made quick judgments about the show originally could finally see the positive message underlying it.”
But while some students are urging the school to bring “The Vagina Monologues” to campus, others seem content with the administration’s decision.

“The Vagina Monologues reduces a woman to her private parts and inadvertently does what has been so destructive to the cause of women over history, turning their bodies into objects and failing to see the spiritual element in femininity,” said Michael Paris, a member of the Catholic men’s group Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Confraternity. “For those who want to run the play under the banner of academic freedom: How is a positive representation of a teenager getting sexually assaulted by an older woman academic? How is reducing a woman to her vagina promoting freedom?”

Sophomore Maya Bhat does not personally disagree with “The Vagina Monologues” on the whole.

“It’s not a bad play,” she admitted. “But I definitely understand why the administration wouldn’t want to host it. I mean, the student body’s support is just too split.”

A recent torchonline.com poll shows an almost even split exists. Fifty-one percent of those that responded agree that the play should come to campus, while 49 percent say that it should not.

“The poll is a clear-cut sign that this issue is just too divisive,” said sophomore Andrew Conti. “That’s why I find no problem with the administration’s decision of keeping the play off campus.”

Despite the controversy, Brizicky is still trying to bring “The Vagina Monologues” to St. John’s. She is hoping that if a department within St. John’s is willing to back the play, a loophole in University policy would force them to allow it, much like what happened at Fordham University.

Some students continue to question the University’s stance that the play is too controversial.

“I think controversy can be handled with tact and even potentially be made into something really phenomenal,” said Olivia Hartle, a member of the Chappell Players, “but it’ll be difficult for one person to try to flip the administration.”