The Brazen Word

The audacious hypocrisy of this University’s administration is beyond words; I’ll do my best here.

In early January, senior Alisha Brizicky met with Father James Maher, vice president of Student Affairs, and Dr. Jose Rodriguez, associate vice president of Student Affairs, in regards to the possibility of hosting “The Vagina Monologues” at St. John’s. Despite recognizing the potential value of the play, both administrators explained that the University administration could not support hosting the show on campus.

“The play itself really tries to focus on the value of awareness, creating awareness around violence against women and opposing that, and we all support that value,” Maher told The Torch in mid January.

Apparently, the administrators in Student Affairs have chosen to ignore that value, as the University has invited Ludacris, one of the most famously misogynistic entertainers ever, to perform at the second annual “Just Press Play” concert.

I am usually opposed to censorship or the idea that events should be disallowed at St. John’s because of potentially offensive language. Divisiveness is the foundation for enlightenment. A Ludacris performance, which is largely rooted in crass sexual vulgarity, is one of the few events I find difficult to defend, especially while considering the irony between this decision and the one that disallowed an on-campus performance of “The Vagina Monologues.”

The remaining remarks both Maher and Rodriguez made in regards to “The Vagina Monologues” in mid January seem comical now with the recent news that Ludacris will be paying a visit to the University.

“It really gets us divided on an issue that we have to be fundamentally unified on,” Maher said.
“I’d like to ask: is it possible to bring up awareness of very important issues without running the risk of insulting others?” Rodriguez said. “If that’s the case, then I think we should consider that.”

When asked about the possibility of omitting the most controversial scenes of “The Vagina Monologues” at the hypothetical University showing (a possibility raised by The Torch), Rodriguez insisted that would not matter “because of the nature and what is known of this program.”

What about the nature of what is known of Ludacris? Why is there an exception made for a man that advocates violent sexual promiscuity and the sexual objectification of women?

Instead of inviting a potentially divisive play that would undoubtedly spur a pedagogical dialogue over issues of femininity and violence against women, the University has chosen to invite an almost universally offensive performer that produces lyrics largely driven by the objectification of women and their bodies.

The inconsistency here is baffling. I cannot understand how administrators remain blind to not only the parody between their programming decisions, but the detachment between this particular program and the University’s mission statement.
What gives the administration of a Catholic university the gall to invite Ludacris to St. John’s when they denied a much more serious, intellectual, and far less vulgar show just three months ago?

It’s not just inconsistent or hypocritical. It’s blatantly arrogant.
This programming decision is explicitly disrespectful to the students supporting the performance of “The Vagina Monologues.” It is disrespectful to the religious Catholics that work and learn at St. John’s. It is disrespectful to the mission of this University.

The decision to allow Ludacris to perform at St. John’s illustrates the worst kind of misogyny. I don’t think administrators are fully aware of the message being sent to the University community when they deny an event advocated by people so invested in women’s rights and then allow another that is so obviously offensive to the same group. This is a dangerous brand of discrimination, so embedded in the nature of these administrative decisions that the people making them seem completely oblivious to their own close-minded hypocrisy.

“I think that when we’ve learned in any way, shape or form of any problems with programming in terms of how it might be offensive to [our] mission, we’ve dealt with it right away,” Maher said. “[The University has] an obligation to the whole community.”

Quotes like these matched with the inconsistent practice of the University’s Catholic mission are disheartening and appalling. This calls to question the University’s priorities: is the possibility of financial gain overshadowing its fundamental values?