Friday, July 29, 2016

Texas A&M Chalk Talk: An opportunity to do better

Since a picture I took at the event is now on several news media outlets's websites, I guess the opportunity for the Texas A&M Athletic Department to deal with the issue directly has passed.

I want to stress that overall I enjoyed the event. The event raised money for a local charity and the interactive portion of the event was fantastic. It was awesome to see the locker room and walk out of the tunnel onto Kyle field. There were drills and we saw the weight room, the indoor practice facility and the auditorium where team meetings were held. Several players were there and were great. They were all polite and had wonderful things to say about their trip to Haiti (for those that went) and the team chemistry.

I addressed my concerns directly with the athletic department and received an almost immediate response saying the issue would be addressed.

I've seen a lot of people saying "there are more important matters to worry about," and while there are a lot of important things to worry about, sexism is an important issue. It's fine to think this is funny, obviously the coaches presenting did, but it's not fine to dismiss my (and other people's) feelings because it doesn't bother you.

The wage gap is real. The fact that only 5% of CEO's of Fortune 500 companies are women is real. Sexism is real. Yesterday I wrote the letter below and last night I watched a woman accept the nomination for president of a major political party. Progress is real and I'm hopeful speaking out will be constructive.

Below is the letter I sent regarding the event:

To Whom It May Concern,

Earlier this week I was thrilled to read a press release from Texas A&M regarding A&M being named a top university for women. Attending A&M was one of the best decisions I have made and my enrollment had a strong impact on the woman I am today. As a proud alum with a successful career, I celebrate the successes of the school and point to them when speaking about my beloved alma mater.

Unfortunately, my experience at yesterday’s Chalk Talk for Women has slightly dampened my enthusiasm for A&M. This event was a great opportunity to embrace female fans and instead it was full of sexism and misogynic statements. While the event was for fans of all knowledge, it did not seem to address levels of knowledge so much as gender. The coaches could have spoken to a room full of women as people with an interest in football, but instead we were met with comments implying that we only needed to know about football because of our husbands and we were shown slides with jokes referencing cleaning and feminine hygiene products. 

The events following the presentation in the Hall of Champions were very enjoyable. The assistant coaches and other members of the athletic department that I interacted with were polite and informative. The tour of the facilities made the experience worthwhile, as was the charitable contribution to Twin City Mission.

Overall this event is a great opportunity for A&M to embrace female fans and I am hopeful that my feedback will be used to make future events more successful. I can be reached at xxxxxx if you would like to discuss further.
Sincerely,

Karen L. Weinberg ‘01


Indoor practice facility 

Size 17 shoe
Locker room, so cool!


Kyle Field selfie!

11 comments:

  1. GO Karen! I just saw a friend share deadspin's article that was critical about the event. I thought "Karen went. Let me ask her what she thought." Then, I saw this. Well done for addressing the issue with the university.

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  2. Excellent job speaking out. There is no place for lazy, sexist comments. I would have been fuming if my daughter had attended and been subjected to those statements from the staff.

    Again, well done and hold your head high.

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  3. I think there are better ways to affect change than going public with your frustrations. Every competing program will now use this to negatively recruit against A&M. In the future, please try to adress the issue with the coaches directly rather than on social media.

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    1. This comment right here is exactly why things like what happened at Baylor (and other schools) have happened. Because people care more about winning than about sexist comments from coaches, who are supposed to role model acceptable behavior for these young men. When they see things like this, along with the accompanying paltry 2 week suspension, it tells them all they need to know about what is acceptable. If this had solely been directed to the coaching staff to handle, nothing would have been done. The sad fact that we as women face is that when we handle our frustrations in a manner deemed appropriate by men such as the course of action discussed above, we are dismissed for "overreacting," labeled as unable to take a joke. By the way, this "joke" was not only not funny, but clearly and intentionally degrading to women. And it's not just about a lack of knowledge about football. Check out Deadspin's article to see slides that were degrading on a sexual level. And we wonder why we have athletes sexually assaulting women. Putting this out to the media required that something be done, as it was unlikely to happen otherwise.

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    2. Michael, I tried to do it directly but someone (not me) had already made it public. So, I brought my comments into the public. I want better for our university and I won't apologize for that.

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  4. Well done. I'm so glad that you spoke up.

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  5. I am embarrassed for my beloved university. More than that I am outraged. Furious. That was so incredibly inappropriate. Your letter was kind and firm and honest. Thank you very much for it known. We all become better, when we are transparent. It needed to be addressed, and your commentary made that happen. I hope that it results in real change of culture.

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