If you have been around campus lately then you have probably seen numerous posters and fliers advertising UCA’s various student organizations and events.
However, one in particular has caught my eye. I was roaming around campus on my way to see the tireless people in the financial aid office when I saw in pleasant matte, grey tones reading, “Meet all the other 2201 freshmen, 3 of whom will be your future bridesmaids.” Rather presumptuous, I thought.
Later that afternoon, a former professor of mine posted a picture on Facebook with the same flier. A student in Lewis Science Center took issue with the poster, leaving a handwritten message taped underneath it reading, “The women of Lewis aren’t here for a Mrs. Degree. Try a different department.”
Let me preface by saying I take no issue with marriage in itself. That is not a critique I am concerned with. I also understand UCA’s potential motives behind the poster. We want our incoming freshmen to be in a homey and comfortable atmosphere. “We’re UCA, you belong, we are your future,” and so on.
There is nothing wrong with trying to appeal to students with pleasant, poignant messages to assuage their possible social anxieties. I get it, because like all of us, I was there, too. We all know adjusting to change is a difficult ordeal.
While the intentions may be good, there are a lot of implications for our society at large here. Not only is it extremely presumptuous, but it perpetuates a kind of conventionalism that I believe our generation is trying to move away from.
It is certainly not an uncommon occurrence for students to meet their future spouses in college. A vast overgeneralization, but I have certainly heard the phenomena that young women used to come to college for the sole purpose of husband-shopping. I know that was somewhat the case with my own grandparents.
That being said, times have changed, and placing such expectations on the women of our own generation is detrimental. Again, let me disclaim, this innocent poster is not the issue. Still, perpetuating the idea that an individual’s natural course in life is to find a spouse is not something I can get behind.
This poster, though perhaps indirectly, tells our freshmen marriage should be a priority, and that in true time-honored fashion we are expected to get married, have our 2.5 kids and a house with a white picket fence and so on.
I say no to that. I refuse to be OK with an institution promoting another institution. Having a fulfilling life does not necessitate marriage, though it can contribute to one.
Much like the women of Lewis, I came to UCA in order to obtain a degree and to become knowledgeable so I may increase my chances of finding stable employment in the future. My current priorities lie in becoming self-sufficient and independent, in hopes that I can become the best possible individual I can be.
I won’t place blame on the university or the author of the poster. I’ve heard quite a few opinions from both sides.
“It’s just a statistic,” one of my friends said. Another pointed out that the poster should be interpreted as students making life-long friends here at college.
Of course that’s what the poster actually means, but why should I be okay with this assumption placed on my future? I think this kind of lackadaisical attitude is what perpetuates various types of oppression. A message does not have to be violent or drastic to constitute oppression. It occurs all kinds of ways. As a woman I feel that being expected to get married and have three bridesmaids is isolating. I would be perfectly satisfied with never getting married, and I know many other people feel the same way.
Perhaps I’ll change my mind in the future, but, for now, that’s not something I’m concerned about. Naturally, this poster is the very least of our society’s problems. I’m not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, but I bring up these questions to get people thinking. When we think critically and take steps to question the way things have always been, then we are striving for more knowledge and, ultimately, progression as a society.