The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 28th

‘New Math’ lacks insight

New York Times article might have misrepresented UNC student body, but it certainly doesn’t de?ne us

In his New York Times article, “A new math on campus,” Alex Williams intended to write about the social consequences of the gender ratio at large universities.

Instead, Williams managed to chauvinistically suggest that women’s advancement at UNC comes at the expense of their relationships with men.

We cannot and should not let Williams’ clear misrepresentation of our University define us.

To begin with, Williams neglected to mention the very salient fact that, on average, women have outnumbered men by essentially the same ratio since the 1980s.

And the same is true at schools across the country.

Thus, it is puzzling why he would suggest that the gender gap — as if it were a new phenomenon — is responsible for the alleged social downfall of women.

But his misrepresentation of the UNC student body was even more egregious.

More than half of the individuals quoted from UNC were involved in Greek life, a group that only makes up about 17 percent of campus. And 6 out of 10 were journalism and mass communication majors.

Though Williams’ methods of reporting were questionable on many different levels, the sensational quotes that appeared in the article touched on a larger cultural issue. And it’s an issue that does not necessarily have anything to do with women’s achievement or the gender gap — despite what Williams argues.

The real issue at the heart of many of the article’s quotations is something relatively new: the hookup culture, a pervasive problem on college campuses.

This culture is rooted in the societal pressures for women to have partners. Women who don’t feel the need to fit into society’s cookie cutter are often negatively labeled.

Stanford University professor Paula England has defined hookup culture as the practice of sexual contact between two individuals before any discussion of a relationship.

It is acceptable and often encouraged, she has argued, for men to play the field. But when women become sexually active, they are considered sluts.

Ultimately, this culture objectifies women as willing to do anything for a boyfriend. Thus, it is a contributing reason for the lack of dating among young adults — not the gender gap, as Williams suggests.

Williams’ article also promotes a societal double standard: If a woman aggressively pursues a man, she’s desperate. But when the roles are reversed, it’s romantic.

Most women at UNC are not pathetic and lonely creatures, as Williams’ out-of-context quotes suggest.

And UNC men are usually just that: men — not the “campus brute(s)” Williams called them.

Williams patronizingly suggested that we should “hoist a mug to female achievement” — before devoting the rest of his article to painting women at desperate.

Let’s put the focus back where it belongs.

Three out of the past four student body presidents were women. Our women’s soccer team has won more national championships than any sport in the ACC. Elizabeth Longino was selected to be a Rhodes Scholar this year, one of eight UNC women over the past 10 years to be honored with the scholarship.

The list of examples of women’s successes continues on at UNC, and the same is true nationally.

Thus, it’s clear the assumptions gleaned from the article are incorrect. We know that.

But now it’s time to dispel these antiquated social norms by holding ourselves to a higher standard — to respect and empower our fellow students, regardless of gender.

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