Freshman Class Council scraps offensive shirts

The Freshman Class Council has run into controversy with its T-shirts for The Game.

The FCC has decided to change the design of its shirts after the original design, which was submitted by students and voted on by the freshman class, sparked outcry from members within the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. But after the LGBT Cooperative and other students raised concerns about the design — which contained the word “sissies” — administrators asked the FCC to reconsider. FCC representatives decided Tuesday to scrap the old T-shirts, which had not yet been printed, and make a new design.

The original design, which won out over five other entries, displayed an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote in the front — “I think of all Harvard men as sissies” — in bold white letters. The back of the long-sleeved, navy blue T-shirt said “WE AGREE” in capital letters, with “The Game 2009” scrawled in script underneath it.

But the term ‘sissies’ is considered offensive and demeaning, and as well as a “thinly-veiled gay slur,” said Julio Perez-Torres ’12, a member of the LGBT Co-op.

After the winning design was announced, FCC President Brandon Levin ’13 said, several students raised concerns about the design to their respective FCC representatives, which they in turn brought to the attention of the FCC Executive Board and Dean of Freshman Affairs Raymond Ou.

The LGBT Co-op first heard about the T-shirts from a member of the Yale College Council, LGBT Co-op Coordinator Rachel Schiff ’10 said. She followed suit by contacting the dean and master of her college — Silliman — to encourage dialogue among the Co-op, administrators and FCC.

Ou said Wednesday that he first heard about the winning T-shirt design when FCC brought the complaints to him. In response, he told the FCC chairs to meet with the concerned students face to face. Shortly after he told FCC to respond to the co-op’s concerns, Ou said, he told Yale College Dean Mary Miller about the issue, and she decided to pull the design.

“What purports to be humor by targeting a group through slurs is not acceptable,” Miller said in an e-mail to the News.

Still, FCC representatives had concluded they would not make their final decision until they met with the co-op.

“Independently of Dean Miller’s decision, our primary concern was that no one was hurt, offended or felt uncomfortable with ourT-shirts,” Levin said.

After that discussion, he said, representatives decided to withdraw that design and opt for a different one, featuring a white ‘H’ in the front inside a transluscent white circle, with a white line slashed through it.

Levin, the FCC president, said the council had thought the Fitzgerald quote simply represented the traditional rivalry between Yale and Harvard.

Ou said when he first met with the FCC about the T-shirt design submissions, he and the FCC mainly discussed the more sexually explicit ones.

“I think the Harvard-Yale rivalry brings out the best and worst in our students,” he said.

YCC President Jon Wu ’11, who said he has been advising the FCC on the issue, said the problem was that the line of people that approved the shirts did not realize the word “sissies” was offensive.

“None of us realized the connotation,” Wu said in an e-mail to the News. “No member of the Yale community should feel marginalized.”

But Sophia Shapiro ’11, the other co-coordinator of the LGBT Co-op, said despite the fact the Fitzgerald design won with over 50 percent of the more than 800 freshman voters, she thought people would have thought differently had they realized the potentially homophobic connotations of the term “sissies.” She said this incident is an opportunity to educate the Yale community.

“I commend the FCC for their revolutionary measure,” she said. “They acted of their own accord without any administrative involvement.”

Levin of the FCC said the council incurred some extra costs from the changing the design, and that they expect some students to ask for refunds on the shirts.

FCC will be selling the new shirts in Commons the rest of the week.

Comments

  • BR

    I’m gay and I’m offended by the Co-Op. Great.

    No, I don’t self-hate. And unlike a majority of members in the co-op, I’m not actually in the closet.

  • Recent Alum

    It’s because of insanity like this that our yield is down 5%.

  • Major Nidal Hassan

    I agree with this decision.

  • screw the lgbt

    Seriously, guys, the lGBT is on a power trip. We should not let them control every little decision. Plus, it is a quote from one of all the all-time great writers. I have never heard of sissies as a derogatory term. And even if it is, who cares.

    Is there anything the LGBT people have not complained about? I don’t think so. It is time to declare war on them and their special interest crusade. They are destroying Yale. There is a reason people hate them–because of their actions like this. Hell, maybe I should go to Bob Jones–wouldn’t have to put up with them there.

  • @2

    AMEN. This is ridiculous. This was the best shirt idea EVER. You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m too mad to even have some kind of snarky response. It’s self-evidently over-the-top. I’m speechless.

  • 01238

    The Yalie ratio’s climbed, I see
    From one in four to one in three!

  • out of control

    This is the last straw. The PC-mongering of this campus is infinitely more oppressive than the behavior it seeks to curtail. Yale cannot continue to bend over backwards to accommodate a handful students trying to boost their activist cloud at the expense of everyone else… or, as rankings and numbers are already suggesting, it’s going to LOSE everyone else.

  • huh

    Yale’s on a fast track to PC itself into submission.

    Or, LGBTQ, was that too offensive?

  • Yale 2010

    Sissy can mean “a timid or cowardly person.” This is ridiculous.

  • Lester

    The actions of the FCC are reprehensible and contrary to the spirit of their organization. The message aside, the FCC ought to have announced and approved any change with the freshman class instead of announcing it to the YDN. Furthermore, the FCC had 6 other designs. The revised design, the crossed out H, was neither seen nor voted on by the freshman class.

    As for the message itself, over 50% of the freshman class voted for the t-shirt. Now, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that the yale admissions office didn’t admit 650 bigots and conclude that the freshman class never meant to insult the LGBTQ community. That being said, I think the LGBT co-op is overreaching and trying to stir up controversy where there is none.

    Personally,I would resent being called a “freshman” by the co-op as such languages perpetuates a male-dominated gender norm in higher education. Additionally, the usage of the word “fresh” implies a naivete sometimes associated with virginity, and I resent the expectation of chastity.

  • ROFLCOPTER

    Seriously?

    This is absolutely ridiculous. The LGBT movement can’t just co-opt a bunch of words and declare them “offensive.” There are certainly a limited set of words that are commonly interpreted as slurs that they have the right to be offended by, but I’m sorry “sissies” is not one of them (and especially in this context)…

  • Bill

    Never underestimate a heterosexual and their need to stroke their own egos at the expense of denigrating and humiliating the LGTB citizens that were ALL 100% heterosexually created.

    Heterosexuals have spat the word ‘sissy’ at gay men for decades. Pretending you do not know that makes you look stupid. Has Yale become stupid?

    Most amazing are the comments here. It is always amazing to me to watch human beings fighting for their ‘right’ to treat others badly.

    Straight people, you kinda suck most of the time.

    ‘No offense.’

  • y’13

    This is downright absurd – I’m gay and I never once had this thought. And no, now that I have been “informed of this word’s homophobic connotations” or whatever, I still haven’t changed my mind about thinking this quote is funny.

    I think it’s stupid for a group like this to spend valuable political capital on meaningless things like silencing speech not even directed at their community when there are ongoing battles to be fought that actually affect people’s rights. Moreover, I think having the LGBT activists on campus flair up over non-issues like this one really trivializes their most important projects and allows people to just write off the whole movement as silly. After all, the fact that they “complain about everything” seems to have made people like poster #4 feel legitimate in declaring war on them. The heads of the coop should think ahead about the pragmatic costs and benefits before they decide to go after the next borderline case of “offensive speech.”

  • absurd

    can we all now acknowledge how ridiculous this campus has become?

  • Wordie

    I always thought “sissy” was synonymous with calling someone a “baby”….my apologies to any babies whom I have offended through the years.

    Ridiculous…and Harvard is LAUGHING at us now. FCC, just forget a T-shirt altogether. At this point, all the playful banter has been sucked dry.

    Maybe it’s time to remove Fitzgerald’s books from the library as well?

  • y10

    absolutely ABSURD.

  • I mean

    I think the real reason it was scrapped is that it sucked a whole lot.

  • superman

    Does this mean that the LGBT people is tacitly admitting they’re all sissies in the ‘timid or cowardly person’ sense–since they randomly assume it’s being directed at them?

    Maybe not, but the least they could do is propose a workable alternative. However that would require one minute of creativity and a bit of school pride. Can we get one good pun going?

  • hello

    I thought everyone here at Yale was gay. Can’t we make fun of ourselves?

  • @Bill

    You kind of suck… all of the time. But hey, at least you like it.

    See the Lester post (#10) – you could arguably interpret the word “freshman” as having offensive connotations. The fact of the matter is however that contextually it is not an offensive word. Similarly, the shirt contextually is not offensive. F. Scott Gerald (and the shirt) clearly is not stating that all Harvard men are gay, but rather that all Harvard men are cowardly and wimpy. Frankly, for the LGBT to argue that the word is offensive and has homosexual connotations is offensive because it equates being gay with being cowardly and wimpy.

  • Hieronymus

    Sissies.

    BTW, #7? It’s “forwards,” as in, Yale continues to be bent over forwards by its insect overlords…

  • Old Blue ’73

    Perhaps the co-op can do the campus a public service and publish a list of words it deems offensive, since so many students, gay and straight from the above comments, are ignorant of what they might be. There are some obvious ones but “sissy” is far from obvious. Would the term “wimp” be offensive? Would any term challenging the “manhood” of Harvard men be insulting to the co-op members.

    BTW, is anyone else offended at the notion of the Dean of Students making the decision to pull the slogan, instead of merely advising? Big Brother, or in this case Big Sister, appears to be well in control of Yale.

  • y12

    I think this decision is absolutely pitiful and absurdly revolting. I am ashamed that this phenomenal and storied academic institution has stooped to this level. It is a complete paradox that this school, a bastion of the liberal values upon which our nation is founded, will CENSOR material that is in no way targeting any group or individual. The word “sissy” in no way targets or even hints at targeting homosexuals. The LGBT co-op is so disgustingly paranoid in its mission to protect and promote the agenda of this university’s LGBT community that it, through its absurd complaints, has pushed the university’s administration to compromise the values upon which Yale is founded by CENSORING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. Yale promotes liberal values when it is in the interests of members on the far left on the ideological spectrum but the second someone expresses himself in a manner that offends the far left, the Yale administration cracks down, censors “offensive” material, and utterly contradicts itself. The Yale administration is a complete hypocrisy and when it makes moves like this, I am ashamed to go to this university.

  • Sappho

    Interesting in that the original writer – F. Scott Fitzgerald – was considered quite fey himself, and was worried about some sort of implied man on man action going on between Nick Carraway and Gatsby in the “The Great Gatsby”.

  • YYYY

    Does this mean you can no longer say the venerable HARVARD SUCKS ?

  • Ken

    It is really pathetic that the overwhelming consensus of the entire Freshman class would be overridden by the illegitimate concerns of a few hyper-sensitive individuals. More pathetic, still, is the fact that the FCC would cede to the demands of the LGBTQ co-op on this issue for the sake of political correctness. Who is the FCC purporting to represent, anyway?

  • gay yalie

    Nice job, Coop. Now, since you think you represent the whole gay community at Yale, everyone ELSE thinks we’re all oversensitive… well, sissies.

    I for one am NOT defined by Schiff & Co’s militant PC-ness. Fitzgerald rocks. I would have bought one.

  • jokesville

    gay people have thick skin

  • can’t believe it

    or is it thick skulls?

  • puzzled

    Ou said, he told Yale College Dean Mary Miller about the issue, and she decided to pull the design.” What purports to be humor by targeting a group through slurs is not acceptable,” Miller said in an e-mail to the News.

    What a decisive action taken! It puzzles me that there is no action taken on the “preseason email” and “safety dance not safe” incidents.

  • yale 2011

    Ridiculous. Later when we look back, we’ll realize that this paranoid hypersensitivy has gotten us nowhere.

  • hmm

    First the racist screw theme, now an anti-gay shirt. FCC just fails.

    I, for one, was a purchaser of the Fitzgerald shirt and a homosexual. Thank you Julio and Rachel for once again making me embarrassed to be out.

  • Huck Farvard

    Yale freshmen quoting a Princeton drop-out about Harvard? What a bunch of … sissies.

  • Harvard men ARE sissies…

    Where can I get one of these shirts still… is there a black market I can shop? O.o

  • Maury Miller

    This is a quote from the New York Times on November 18.

    “Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, called him a “great man” whose inauguration speech displayed the bold and merciful spirit of Jesus. “Forgiveness is not for SISSIES,” the archbishop said.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/world/africa/18safrica.html

    Can the Co-op please piss him off too? Now that this is taken care of I’m sure they need something to protest.

  • alum 00

    That a few yalies declared nuclear war over a point of reasonable contention doesn’t really suprise or bother me.

    What totally bothers me is this Dean Miller character’s email to the news. Such indoctrination from an administrator is totally inconsistent with the basic values of the Yale I knew, and I hope people raise hell.

  • Harvard Undergrad

    Count on Yale to rely on offensive slurs in a vain attempt at cleverness. You’ll never be as creative as us-accept it. :)

  • Ruined

    Co-op, thanks a ton for ruffling feathers over nothing, when you could’ve been out actually making a difference.

    It is your goddamn right to be offended at whatever you damn well please. It is also the right of all of us reasonable people to mock you for just how stupid you look getting offended at everything.

  • neutral

    sissies? really? freshmen are getting less creative by the year.

  • Yo

    Yo Yale-

    I’m really happy for you and Imma let you finish- but Harvard has the best t-shirt ideas of all time. Of ALL TIME!!!

    :)

  • Please take a WGSS class while you’re at Yale…

    Sissy is obviously an insult. Otherwise why on Earth would we be using it as a way to refer to people we do not like or respect? Can you people seriously not understand that sissy comes from sis (shortened version of sister in old English) and that it means effeminate boy or man in its primary definition (check Webster if you have forgotten your kindergarten years and don’t believe me).

    The fact that we try to water down the seriousness of the insult by using the preteen equivalent of slurs like faggot doesn’t make the core of the insult any different: Harvard men should be ashamed of the fact that they act in an effeminate manner. Yes, the secondary meaning is timid or cowardly but if, in using the word sissy, we were referring to Harvard’s tendency to be cowardly we could’ve simply gone with “cowardly” instead and skipped the whole, yes, homophobic connotation.

    Frankly, I think Harvard men don’t deserve our respect because they can’t hold their alcohol and because they can’t dance -not because they’re effeminate.

    Please guys, lets get to a place where men can be effeminate and women can be masculine and its not something negative. You’re smart people, you can find a way to insult Harvard without having to resort to badly veiled homophobia. If it seems difficult its only because our language is carrying the baggage of years of strict gender roles and widely accepted homophobia. I know it can be difficult, it’s difficult for me too sometimes but at least I accept that it’s wrong and I try to change. I don’t lash out at people that point out my mistakes because I’m too lazy to come up with something witty that isn’t homophobic.

    And no, we shouldn’t stop reading F. Scott Fitzgerald because of this quote but Yale has to start accepting that intelligent people can say stupid things too. Everyone makes mistakes, the FCC did and had the decency to acknowledge it. I just wish others in our community would show the same maturity.

  • Alumnus of Elsewhere

    Just a reminder, as you all get mad at each other, that “This Side of Paradise” does NOT refer to New Haven. If you need to print inane T-shirts, at least make them original….

  • Early 90s Guy

    C. Van Woodward, you poor soul, you must be rolling in your grave. Since when did we all become so sensitive? The real world is rough, folks. This isn’t a slur. If “wimp” was a common word, F. Scott would have used it and you would have all felt better about that synonym. Benno Schmidt had few merits as President, but his absolute understanding about the necessity for free speech on a college campus was invaluable. Dealing with recent college grads in the business world, and more recently in academia, I realize that you guys can’t take a mild poke, never mind a shove. All of that helicopter parenting and safe playgrounds are producing dividends.

  • Proud to Be a Yalie Again

    With the exception of #12 and #41, my shame over the FCC’s sissy behavior has been completely offset by the comments on this article. There really are reasonable people at Yale!

  • Yale ’08

    #41,

    What a load of garbage! Let me ask you one thing. Does “coward” replacing the word “sissy” constitute an expurgation of historical record? Yes!! Fitzee said “sissy”. He didn’t say “coward”. Why are we changing the history of one of American literature’s greats to suit the purpose of one small hypersensitive, attention-hogging niche in Yale’s social fabric?? Stupid!

  • @#41

    I agree wholeheartedly with Yale ’08. How dare the LGBT at Yale co-opt a word that isn’t theirs to begin with! And how dare the FCC cave in. Looks like we can at least identify the real SISSIES!!!

  • Question

    I wasn’t aware that “gay” meant “effeminate man.” There are heterosexual men who are effeminate as well. “Sissy” doesn’t just target gays….

    This sounds like a classic case of victim mentality:

    http://more-selfesteem.com/victim_mentality.htm

  • @Alumnus of Elsewhere

    The book itself does, if not the title. Amory refers to Yale and New Haven in very favorable terms on numerous occasions. FACT CHECK.

  • what??

    honestly, the concept sissies being “effeminate” is significantly more offensive to all women than it is to gay men. sorry.

  • Not Ivy

    This is the insanity that follows from trying to please everybody. There’s always somebody ready to be hurt or offended at everything.

  • hmd2010

    As a gay alum, I really do not see a problem with the T-shirt. The context has to be taken into consideration, and in this context the word sissy is meant to denote weakness or weaklings. Bette Davis, the great gay icon, once said that “old age is no place for sissies.” Clearly, she did not mean to slight all her gay fans, and none took exception to it. Words have to be viewed in their context, and in this context the design is very creative and effective, and reflects a sophistication and smartness Yale can take pride in.

  • Boola

    Not a single person quoted in the article defends the shirts on the fact or the principle. Not one. But everyone quoted is either a student council member, a low level diversity administrator, or a gay activist. In other words, 100% sissies!

  • TD alum

    yet another reminder why i hated my time at yale. thanks!

  • Harvard Shirt Idea

    Nothing occurs at Yale that does not abide by the mores of the LGBT Co-op.

  • nonyaley

    doesn’t an H with a line through it stand for NO HOMOsexuals? Or is it NO HETEROsexuals?

  • Amused

    Yale IS now a laughing stock..the (self-imposed) blind leading the clueless…

  • DougInSanDiego

    As a Harvard grad ……

    it is simply a fact that all Harvard “men” ARE sissies.

    Since when did telling the truth become offensive?

    Oh – I forgot – ClimateGate.

  • an amused Stanford student

    If a gay guy was called a sissie by a straight guy trying to use it as a derogatory term they’d laugh. It’s like if someone called a gay girl tomboy. I mean, is that really it? That’s all you got?

    I personally think calling a guy a girl is more offensive, and I do it all the time…and I’m a girl…and gay.

    But hey, if I was gay and in New Haven, I’d probably bitch about every little thing too.

    Solution: Transfer to Cali…Stanford anyone?

  • Y’12

    Wow. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are willing to let other people be hurt just so they can make jokes.

    Do I see a problem with use of the word “sissies” as a slur? No. It doesn’t hurt me and I think that while the shirt idea was kind of lame most people should be able to shrug it off. But the proper response when someone tells you “Excuse me, you’re stepping on my toes!” is not “I AM NOT, stop being so sensitive!”

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