Elizabeth Dishian — Staff Writer
Judging a book by its cover can be hurtful to the students on Southern’s campus, because most stereotypes are untrue, according to Jim Hoffecker, graduate intern for the Men’s Initiative.
“When you are thinking about stereotypes and judging people, it’s harmful to the people around you,” Hoffecker said.
A lot of the students on campus are certainly aware of the stereotypes, he said, but the same students are not aware how harmful the stereotype might be to another student.
“They’re naïve,” Jessica Broggi, freshman early childhood education major, said. “And [students] don’t pay attention and they think stereotypes are the rule.”
The ‘Guess Who’s Str8?’ program is designed to be a game but have educational and informational value as well, according to Hoffecker.
A panel of four students sat in front of a residence hall while the students in the audience were given the chance to ask any question they would like regarding a panelist’s sexual orientation. Students could think about the stereotypes on their minds and see if what they thought is actually true by asking questions.
“Why not use the Men’s Initiative to do this program,” Hoffecker said. “Men are super homophobic and this program reaches a broad compass of residents. And you can address all the students questions too.”
The only rules the residents had to follow were to be respectful and to not ask any obvious questions that might give away the panelists sexual orientation, Ruiz said.
“We ask these questions all the time in our heads and they are damaging,” Hoffecker said.
Broggi said it is fun, interesting and shocking to see what stereotypes residents might think another student fits.
“This is the fourth [program] I’ve been on the panel for and it’s interesting to see how stupid people are,” said Courtney Peters, freshman computer science major, “and to get insight on the things they think they know.”
‘Gaydar’ is something that is commonly talked about, according to Jon Ruiz, senior Men’s Initiative student worker.
“We think that the guy with a lisp is automatically gay or the girl who doesn’t exactly go by ‘feminine’ stereotypes is a lesbian,” Ruiz said, “and it’s important to address these myths with residents at Southern.”
Questions asked during the program included: “Do you like Elton John?” “How many pairs of shoes do you own?” “Do you watch ‘Glee?’” “What’s your favorite sports team?”
“People come up with the most ridiculous things to ask the panel,” Ruiz said, “and later in the program we address what was said.”
Out of the 13 residents that guessed to see what the sexual orientation of the panelists were, only one guessed the correct answers, Ruiz said.
“I think,” Broggi said, “it was more of the people who didn’t ask a lot of questions [during the program] that were the ones who were really unsure about what they thought our sexual orientation was.”
Students and people in general mostly see things like sexual orientation as black and white, according to Peters.
“Stereotypes we see everywhere: in the media, in our families and with our friends,” Hoffecker said. “What I like about Southern is that there are so many different people from different walks of life who talk to one another and share ideas in one setting. I think that experience alone opens the eyes of many.”