Efforts to achieve gender equality overshadowed by campus phallus

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***All stories published in this week’s Gateway are satirical and should be treated as such. None of the stories printed are factual and do not represent the actual intentions, feelings, or actions of any of the people mentioned.***

Phil Brown
OPINION EDITOR

The University of Nebraska at Omaha has done much in recent years to promote gender equality on campus. Campuswide, many resources have been dedicated to foster inclusion and reduce stigma for women and LGBT individuals who might otherwise be marginalized or oppressed in society. While all of these efforts are certainly to be lauded, they are quite literally overshadowed by a giant phallic symbol: the Henningson Memorial Campanile.

One of the many vital services the university provides is the Women’s Resource Center: a student agency dedicated to gender wellness and equality all across campus. The agency, which is entirely student-run, represents anyone at the university who identifies as a woman. In addition to other services, the Center provides crucial products to women including menstrual cups, pads, tampons, and pregnancy tests.

The WRC is overseen by the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, which aims to “foster and promote equity, access, and inclusion for all genders and sexualities through education, resources, advocacy, and activism,” according to its website.

While the GSRC and WRC will doubtless provide many crucial services to students and faculty at UNO who are women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or part of the queer or trans spectrums, when its new facility in the Milo Bail Student Center opens this fall it will still be dwarfed by the monstrous stone phallus of the campus’ iconic campanile.

Photo Courtesy of Pinterest
Photo Courtesy of Pinterest

Symbolising traditional, cis-gendered male virility, the structure thrusts into the sky in a barbaric architectural rebuttal of the good work done by the university to accommodate more diverse expressions of gender identity and sexuality.

The university also provides designated Gender-Inclusive Housing for LGBT students and “allies” who request it. While no student is ineligible for standard housing, Gender-Inclusive Housing maybe better suited to some students who don’t fit the gender or sexuality constructs society has often relied on. The designated housing provides students with private bedrooms, bathrooms, and a more di-verse and flexible community.

However, there’s nothing Gender-Inclusive about the Henning-son Memorial Campanile, which those students have to walk under every day. Rather, the campanile is strictly masculine, and, borrowing the words of sociologist Henri Le-febvre on the structure of phallic buildings, an architectural symbol of “force, male fertility, masculine violence.”

Students, faculty, alumni, and even the entire city of Omaha can be proud of the strides the university has made to meet the needs of all its students, especially those who aren’t the straight, cis-gendered men who have dominated higher education for so long.

The university acts through many agencies, centers, and initiatives to help make the experience of women and LGBT students equal and accommodating. But until the massive, obviously phallic campanile is either destroyed or countered with some other architectural symbol, can gender equality ever truly be achieved?

The structure has only been around since 1989, but has already overstayed its welcome. Chancellor Christensen, tear down this dick!

***All stories published in this week’s Gateway are satirical and should be treated as such. None of the stories printed are factual and do not represent the actual intentions, feelings, or actions of any of the people mentioned.***

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