OP-EDS

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February 17, 2012

Setting the bar low

Student Government’s inclusion of Tilted Kilt in Pub Crawl sends wrong message to students.

Cheap transportation, booze, friends, huge discounts—what’s not to love about Student Government’s pub crawl? Ask the 19 women at Tilted Kilt, one of the stops on the crawl, who are suing the place for sexual harassment. Student Government apparently thought it would be appropriate to include a contentious place like this in a Universitysponsored event—an event that should appeal to all students interested in “21+ fun,” not just those with numbed social consciences.

As fourth-years, my friends and I are often looking for new places to try around the city on nights when we feel like we’ve gone to Jimmy’s and The Pub a few too many times. We were excited to sign up for the Pub Crawl and enjoy cheap and fast transportation to tried and true venues. But as soon as I saw that Tilted Kilt was one of the destinations, I was shocked and completely lost all interest in going. I explained to my friends the kind of bar Tilted Kilt is, and they were as critical and incredulous as I was. Needless to say, we did not attend.

Ignorance is no excuse. The sexual harassment lawsuit has been in the media for almost a year and includes accusations of almost 30 counts of verbal and physical harassment. Moreover, the allegations should come as no surprise to those who take even one glance at the Tilted Kilt’s website. The “Irish Hooters” of Chicago encourages the consumption of beer, food, and the women who serve it. A major in gender studies is certainly not required to notice the association between Tilted Kilt’s atmosphere and these allegations. You’re in denial if you think such blatant objectification and hyper-sexualization of women for profit are linked with sexual harassment accusations by coincidence.

But why is this Student Government’s problem? Why plan a pub crawl around allegations that haven’t even been proven true? Why not let students have a little fun and enjoy their view of the ladies while the matter is still in court? The real question is: Why would Student Government feel comfortable funneling students, money, and publicity to a place where there is even the possibility of systematic sexual harassment? With all the bar options available in one of the largest cities in the country, why choose a place that is even linked to something as contentious as sexual harassment? Why include a bar that has the potential to cause so many students discomfort?

Including the Tilted Kilt sent a message to students that the Pub Crawl was catered toward a very particular type of person—namely, the type of person who is eager to blatantly employ the “male gaze,” or those who have no problem watching others do so. It sends a message to male students that part of the fun of sports bars and alcohol is the stereotypical masculine and heteronormative “sport” of female objectification. It sends a message to female students that they should either get used to that or stay home. It sends a message to Tilted Kilt that they should go on with business as usual, and that sexism, sexual harassment, and the mistreatment of female employees are not at all problematic for laid-back college students.

Student Government failed in its goal of representing the student population in this case and instead portrayed itself as a Good Ol’ Boys’ Club unbothered by silly womanly issues like sexism and harassment. I doubt this was at all their intention, but for a group that represents the entirety of the student body, that excuse simply isn’t good enough in this instance. I’m disappointed in Student Government’s choice, or, at the very least, in their lack of research into the types of businesses and atmospheres they endorse.

As for those who still see no problem with Student Government supporting a business accused by 19 women of making lewd comments, threatening sexual advances, undesired touching, and dozens of other forms of sexual harassment? Well, I’d say Tilted Kilt might be your kind of bar after all. Cheers.

Rachel Marro is a fourth-year in the College majoring in sociology.

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