HWS Social Norms and Just Facts

By Phoebe MacCurrach ’18

Staff Writer

The intent behind the HWS Just Facts campaign is in the right place, but the fact is that there’s more to the number we are presented with than what they are showing. For every time, we see that “80% of students never engage in unintended sexual activity as a result of drinking during the academic year” we also know that 20% of students do engage in it. That is one-fifth of the student body! Why is that not what we are focusing on? The 27% of student who are NOT offended by sexist comments, or the 21% of students who do not use a designated driver when they have been drinking? Not to mention the options that these surveys provide as possible answers. For example, when asked how often one drinks, the options are “once a week or not at all” or “3 or more times a week.” In my experience people tend to drink on Friday and Saturday nights, but two nights is not an option and I’d be more likely to say once a week than three times a week. Not giving enough options to provide realistic answers is just purposefully skewing answers into what you want them to be.

The focus on student athletes is also frustrating because of the contracts many teams sign agreeing not to consume alcohol while in season. This type of data would be so much more helpful if it were honest and direct about what exactly the numbers mean. When I see statistics about 21% of students being okay with drunk driving the number of students who are not okay with it disappears. When I see statistics only about student athletes it makes me curious as to what the difference is between those statistics and non-student athletes. Prioritizing athletes over other students on campus is already a major problem at HWS that diminishes the hard work by people outside of the athletic department. Some of the hardest working students in the most difficult disciplines are not athletes, and constantly focusing on athletes gives off the sense that those other students are less important or less valued on campus. So seeing those stats as a prospective student, no doubt would take a toll on a non-athlete in their decision to come here.

How would people react if the stats were reversed and displayed with equal enthusiasm? Wouldn’t people be mad about the 27% of sexist students on campus? Especially when the statistics are presented as “Just Facts” not solutions to the problems that are clearly at hand. I know our opinions on these things are probably off, and that what these statistics are trying to show, but until they are presented differently they will only make me frustrated.

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