Eurotrashed: Binge Drinking Display at Scripps Sparks Controversy
Two cardboard cutouts outside Malott Dining Commons at Scripps College sparked recent controversy on campus. The cutouts, which were set up by the Health Education Outreach (HEO), depicted two girls covered in vomit and bruises with ripped clothes and used condoms in their pockets. The cutouts were labeled "Eurotrashed 2011" and were accompanied by a sign that read, "You wouldn't start your night like this. So why end it this way?"
In a statement released later that day in response to student concerns, HEO explained that the display was based on a YouTube video from the "Know Your Limits" campaign, which was used during Peer Mentor and Resident Assistant training this August. (To see the video, click here.)
Before putting up the display, HEO contacted the Scripps Dean of Students office on Monday and got conceptual approval for the cutouts. On Friday, October 7th, representatives from HEO installed two displays at Malott - one each at the North and East entrances. At first, they were removed because they had not been approved by the Scripps Activities and Residential Life Office, but after they added a contact email to the display, they were approved and put back up.
Emily Yau (SC '13) saw the cutout right before eating lunch. "Initially, I did a triple take and was like, ew, what's that?" Yau expected to find copies of the display at the other colleges, or at least a male version of the cutout. "When I found out that there were only cutouts of girls, that really bothered me." She is also concerned by the inclusion of condoms on the cutout. "They're not supposed to be commenting on morality here, and aren't we supposed to be using condoms?" She thinks the posters got people talking but not about the right issues.
Rachel Picher (SC '12) also took issue with the display. In a public Facebook note, Picher analyzed the cutouts from a feminist perspective. "These images present alcohol consumption as the cause of several female-engendered experiences of shame and use this shame as a deterrent to excess alcohol consumption ... The deployment of female gendered shame may be an effective tool to keep women from drinking, but it will not keep women well."
After receiving complaints from two students who were upset by the display, Antoinette Meyers (SC '12), the student body president, removed one of the cutouts and took it to the Dean of Students office to talk about how to address students' concerns. Later, a representative from HEO removed the other cutout. Currently, both cutouts are on display in the HEO office.
Andrea Kablanian (SC '12), a Peer Health Educator at HEO, was surprised that students responded so negatively to the display. She wants to assure students that Scripps College was not being singled out: "This was a campaign we were interested in using throughout the year before several parties, and Eurotrash happened to be the first."
Kablanian explained that it might have been a coincidence that both cutouts were female. The cutouts were made by tracing the outlines of two Peer Health Educators, and two of the students on shift when the display was being made were female. "Our time limitations only allowed for two to be made, so we decided we'd have them at Scripps, seeing as the party was going to be [there]." Elizabeth Wilmott, Acting HEO Coordinator, confirmed that plans to display the cutouts on other campuses are still moving forward and that HEO intends to make a male display.
Scripps College Dean of Students Rebecca Lee acknowledged that the cutouts had upset some students, but she made it clear that overall she supports alcohol education initiatives. "Frankly, I am concerned there are some students who end up looking like the cutout and have been found displaying aspects of what was depicted." She pointed out that the cutouts probably drew more attention than a simple poster. "With education, the element of controversy is sometimes a good thing. I hope this controversy is also raising awareness and results in students getting involved with assisting HEO and Scripps in identifying better approaches to this most important issue." In an email addressing Scripps students about the event, Dean Lee encouraged students to "accept HEO's offer to engage in dialogue" and directed students' attention to a forum discussion about Scripps' alcohol policy.