Guest Blogger

Agnes Scott College: Lesbians until graduation?

Filed By Guest Blogger | December 10, 2008 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Agnes Scott College, objectification, Revenge of the Nerds, Road Trip 2, Road Trip II: Beer Pong, sexism, Van Wilder, women's college, women's studies

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Louisa Hill is a senior at Agnes Scott College where she studies theatre, French, and women's studies.

LouisaHill.jpgAgnes Scott College, the supposed World for Women, has become the cesspool for Hollywood's C-list sequels. In my four years here, I've had the pleasure of experiencing the filming of such quality movies as a remake of "Revenge of the Nerds" and "Van Wilder III" Our most recent cinematographic credit is "Road Trip II: Beer Pong."

First, let's recognize the irony of a film whose Craigslist recruitment ad seeks extras who are "EXPERIENCED Beer Pong players" being filmed at our Princeton Review-named "Stone-Cold Sober" school. More importantly, this movie's reinforcement of sexism, racism, and heterosexism unhesitatingly undermines the College's values and mission to educate women to "live honorably, think deeply, and engage in the intellectual and social challenges of their times."

Although Agnes Scott was tied for Georgia's most LBGTQ-friendly campus by Atlanta newspaper, Southern Voice, students eating dinner were recruited in the cafeteria to be extras in the film's derisive "Lesbians until Graduation" scene. The recruiter assured us that the only requirement was "acting like lesbians." But in case we were interested, they welcomed same-sex "background kissers."

Apparently the main premise of the scene involved the male protagonists stumbling upon the room full of these "making-out lesbians" (to presumably "convert" them?). When we expressed offense, the recruiter said she was warned about encountering uncooperative students who were "really into being women" (versus into being objects?).

This recruitment was foreshadowed by a fake bulletin board as part of the movie's properties advertising the "exploratory meeting" for their fake college's "Lesbians Until Graduation" club, qualified by statements like "Miss your boyfriend from high school?" which is apparently the only acceptable "excuse" for being a lesbian.

To understand the mindset behind these actions, let's examine how the filmmakers put up signs that said that if we entered certain areas on our campus (including our main quad with our library and humanities building), we were granting the production crew permission to reproduce our images "throughout the universe for all of eternity." This same utter entitlement to our bodies was reproduced in the way that the production team assumed that just because we were on (our own) campus and that we were women, they could recruit us for this degrading "Lesbians until Graduation" scene.

If they had been filming a "Gays until Graduation" scene at (all-men's college) Morehouse, would someone have gone to their cafeteria asking students if they would want to "act gay," offering them the option of "making out if they were interested?" I doubt it. There's something much more complicated and insidious here. Unfortunately what this movie is reproducing is a cliché: the tokenizing and eroticizing of lesbianism as existing solely from the absence of men and as a fetish for heterosexual men.

Agnes Scott women already face the insulting stereotype of girls pillow fighting in silky pajamas. How are we supposed to be taken serious as an academic institution when the production team won't let us in the library because they're filming barely dressed women running around on our quad? We, with our backpacks and winter coats, surely would disrupt their intended portrayal of women.

During the filming, we experienced other forms of dehumanization through harassment from the film's production team. One student, when walking by the set with a paper cup of coffee, was accosted by an extra, who asked the student to get him one. Another student was told, in the vein of a pick-up line, that she was so attractive, she should watch out for being raped.

Although we were assured that these incidents were unusual and that repercussive actions were taken, how can we see this harassment as separate from the film? If they're producing images objectifying women for men's prerogatives, then it seems that these verbal assaults fall on the same continuum of entitlement.

Furthermore, the movie's Craigslist ad states "primarily seeking White" and "Attractive Female Model Type" extras, valued at $7.17/hr (be sure to send in your weight!). These racist and sexist standards are clearly visible on the movie's promotional flier, helping to perpetuate the image that only sexy white people go to college. The flier shows a headless white woman's body, focusing on her large breasts, barely covered by a shirt that says "Nice Rack." Her pelvis is in front of a triangle of shot glasses. The tagline? "Get your balls wet."

An anonymous group of students protested the film with fliers associating this image with our college's admissions slogan: "Agnes Scott: Who will you become?" These posters were displayed on our quad and in our student center for a few hours before they were removed by our administration.

Of course, it all comes down to money. As our college president wrote in an email to the student body, "if we restricted ourselves to films that fully reflect Agnes Scott's culture and promote our mission, we would drastically reduce film-shoot revenues." These revenues "[keep] Agnes Scott affordable and [maintain] its academic quality."

However, let's look at the logistics. Our school is netting $30,000 for the filming of this movie on campus. This amount is just about one year's tuition, which means that if only one student stopped coming here because of this film, the school would lose money. I hope that our administration sees that this meager sum is not worth the compromising of its students' dignity and of our reputation as an institution for women's empowerment. If they haven't gotten the message yet, we're just too "into being women" to stand for this objectification any longer.

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How many well heeled alums are as upset about this as the student body? When college$ get $$ in their eye$ integrity $eem$ to go out the window. When alums start getting stingy with their checks administration will finally sit up and take notice. The whole thing is pretty insulting.

Agreed, get the alumni involved! Great post Louisa.

This is awful. Does everybody know about this? Why are the protests anonymous?

My college never had any movies filmed on campus, and they got by just fine. 30K is nothing, and is definitely not the price of the students' dignity.

Here's an idea.....
By preventing free access to facilities (and that would include avoidance because not wanted to be harassed, the university has breached the contract paying tuition created. Encourage seniors to sue (post graduation to prevent reprisal) for a rebate of at least part of the tuition.

Hit 'em in the pocketbook always gets attention first not to mention this practically assures media attention to the problem.

Some students did try to protest the scene; I don't remember if it was extremely successful, but many folks on campus actively and passively opposed the filming specifically of that scene.

(I go to Agnes Scott, too.)

Thank you for sending this in to be posted. As a fellow Georgian and someone who has been to Agnes Scott on multiple occasions to discuss trans issue, I have always been proud of your school. You are doing a good job in bringing this issue up. Thank you.

Vallan Kantner | December 12, 2008 12:34 PM

Thank you for posting this, I am an Agnes Scott College recent graduate (2007) and am extremely disappointed. I will no longer be contributing a dime to such an ignorantly misguided college and am no longer proud to be a Scottie.

Thanks for selling us out, Agnes. It is so sad that with all of the heteronormative discrimination that queer women (and women in general) face, my college happily added to this sexism for a mere buck.

This is just too much. Personally, I will not be offering any funds to the college in the future as a member of the Class of '07 until there is an apology and promise to actually even consider the reputation, integrity, and honor of not just the college but the very foundation of it, the students. As women's colleges are dropping off more every year, it's an outrage to see that Agnes is "representing" by selling us all out.

And as if that wasn't enough, to disrupt the educations of the students and subject them to such indignities and harassment is nothing other than completely unacceptable. I wouldn't blame students for transferring elsewhere. I am now quite ashamed of my alma mater, myself.

well said, Laurel! i keep thinking perhaps i am overly upset by this, but then i think logical and realize i have every right to be.

As a student worker for the Annual Fund at Agnes Scott, I am encouraging you to give more and annually to the college in order to avoid the college entering into agreements with production companies that want to degrade our campus. Did you know that 90% of students receive need and merit based scholarship from the school? Most student decide to go to Agnes because of strong academics as well as financial aid. If you decide not to give, the reputation of the school nationally will decline. What will that do for the acredidation of your degree?

As an alumnae, I cannot express my disappointment enough in Agnes Scott. My time at ASC shaped me to become the woman leader that I have become and I am deeply saddened that the administration has actively participated in undermining the values that were instilled in me: think deeply, live honorably and engage the social and intellectual challenges of our time.

So, with a heavy heart but strong passion, I call on all you who are as outraged as I am to boycott Agnes Scott College. Don't apply, don't visit, don't volunteer, don't donate. I am saddened to see that ASC so cheaply sold its values but since that is their priority, a mass movement that impacts them financially may be the only way to get a message across.

So, join our Facebook group: Road Trip II: The Boycott of the Alums (Alums only) or our Facebook event: Road Tripp II: Boycott!

Make your outrage into action!

I completely agree that Agnes Scott should not be hosting this movie on campus, but do want to correct an inaccuracy...

"Our school is netting $30,000 for the filming of this movie on campus. This amount is just about one year's tuition, which means that if only one student stopped coming here because of this film, the school would lose money."

As an alum and former staff member, this is untrue. It would be several students as there are very few students on campus that pay full tuition... even close to full tuition.

Again, I completely agree and am very disappointed in Agnes Scott. I understand the economy is tough, but this is not the way to go. I just think that we should be accurate in our complaints.

Emily's comment reminds me of the rigid academic and moral standards I learned at ASC. Even if you agree with an issue you think about the argument, evaluate and respond. If only the administration had learned the same process.

I am horrified and embarrassed for our school. It's an easy decision in my mind: Movies like Scream II ok, Road Trip II NO! One could argue about where the line is and take either point to extreme, but below is my logic-

I planned to donate about $1,000 this year specifically to a combination of my and my husband's former schools. This year do I want to donate to a college that values my dollar equally with Road Trip II's? Or should I give it to the Ga Tech econ program (where I got my masters), which recently had the highest percentage ever of females in their graduate program?

Please don't argue the logic of the above decision. Donation for 90% of society is based on emotion and charitable impulse.

Sorry Alice Hudson- my money is going to Tech this year.

-Carrie '05

Michelle '05 | December 13, 2008 6:47 PM

I'm so shocked that the administration did not support the students protest. I agree with Laurel, that it is unacceptable "to disrupt the educations of the students and subject them to such indignities and harassment". The administration should consider the students above outside organizations. Subjecting students to harassment like that on their own campus just so the school can make extra money infuriates me. I'd like to think this wouldn't have happened if Bullock and Hudson were still on board.

After reading this post, I'm very glad that I decided not to transfer to Agnes Scott from RMWC. I have always heard amazing things about this institution, but I feel like it may be going down the same path many women's colleges seem to be traveling nowadays.

Great post, and much-needed! As a student at a co-ed college, I often idealize women's colleges as hotbeds of empowerment. Way to prove me wrong-- this racist and sexist stunt is a heady example of what's wrong with the way women are portrayed today, and how that Male Gaze is priority, particularly in frat-boyish movies like this one. Again, thanks for writing.

I would like to respond to Anna:

"As a student worker for the Annual Fund at Agnes Scott, I am encouraging you to give more and annually to the college in order to avoid the college entering into agreements with production companies that want to degrade our campus."

I'm sorry, but are you asking us to give more money so that the College isn't "forced" to subject our students to degradation, sexism, disruption, and harrassment? Really? I am curious why this is our only option. Rather than say that the College will no longer sell our reputation (and really, what else is it doing by hosting a movie that completely undermines everything that our institution has stood for since its foundation and effectively tells our students "your bodies are objects to be joked about and aggressively obtained by men"?) you are placing the responsibility for this obviously misguided decision on the part of administration on US?

"Most student decide to go to Agnes because of strong academics as well as financial aid."

You are correct. Strong academics, indeed. However, what kind of education are the students getting when they are denied access to their own facilities because a movie is being shot there--and not just any movie, but one that is humiliating and degrading to women and will no doubt teach young women who view it what we as educated women have fought so hard to change, this belief that we are not independent individuals with spirits, intellect, and bodies that are deserving of not only the respect of others, but also the respect of our own selves.

"If you decide not to give, the reputation of the school nationally will decline. What will that do for the acredidation of your degree?"

I beg your pardon, but what does this movie do to the reputation of our institution? In an age when a woman can run for president and most media outlets can't stop obsessing over what she is wearing, our administration chose to ENDORSE a movie that treats us like sexual toys--nothing more than eye candy. According to you, our reputation relies on us and our money, yet the College effectively took away any choice we have in the matter of how we would like our alma mater to be represented by allowing the filming of this movie on campus. I had no say in that decision. If these are the financial decisions that the College is making, I choose not to consent and help them exploit me and my womanhood any further by halting any future funding until I am confident that they have my and my fellow students' interests truly in mind.

What's the point of having a women's college if you are only going to make us the brunt of frat boy humor? Do you really care about making us stronger or do you want to use us just for our money just as the creators of this movie feel that we are to be used for our bodies?

I'm an alum of Mount Holyoke College, and I would definitely be extremely angry if this was going on at my college. Here's my suggestion:

Have a tshirt making party. Do you have free bins in your laundry rooms? Have a student in each dorm go through the free bins and look for relatively plain tshirts. Find or buy a bunch of permanent black markers. Then set up a space where students can come and have each person write the following sentence on a tshirt: "I do not consent to be filmed." Then simply wear the tshirt around campus.

Of course there is a lot more you can do - definitely get alums involved. But making tshirts is fast, free, and can't really be stopped by the administration. Plus it will mess up their footage.

AAAAAA. The outrage is preventing clear thinking.

I'm sad to hear about this. As an alum, I've been on campus for movies and for commercials. It's been annoying (anyone remember the time they shut off the hot water because the boilers were making too much noise?), but it was also bearable (only a day or so worth of inconvenience). Yet to hear that a recruiter came in to ask for women to act like lesbians is shocking and saddening. I haven't always liked everything that was filmed on our campus, but none of it was downright offensive (at least, not in my time). I never expected for Agnes Scott to only allow films that "reflected our culture," but there should be some boundaries. The last movie I remember was Tyler Perry's "Why did I get married?" It had a few issues I could complain about, but overall it was a wholesome movie with a positive message about women. From what I hear from my friends still on campus, the same is not happening with this film.

As I said, I am saddened at how this is turning out. However, I do not find this film to be a reflection of the Agnes Scott student body/facility. I can't say much for the message the administration is sending, but the mere fact that there is such an outrage about this issue shows the students' conviction about opposing this film. I, for one, made a promise long ago that I would only donate to the Office of International Education and to a certain student accounts worker (a man who I believe is the only reason I poor student like me could go to Agnes Scott for four years). Agnes Scott made me into the woman I am today, but those two offices gave me the opportunity to experience things that would forever change my outlook on the world. I feel like I can't take that away from other students.

The Agnes Scott administration made a bad decision, not the Agnes Scott students. I can't be embarrassed about the Agnes Scott College that helped shape me, but I can be saddened by the path it's currently taking, and express my dissatisfation through all the channels available to me. I won't be donating to the Annual Fund as free "spend this how you like this" money, but the OIE will get a Christmas money-package this year, and Mr. You-saved-my-life-every-year will get a nice fruit basket. When I'm home in America and I can step foot on the campus again, there are quite a few people who will be hearing from me.

~Briana, Class of '08

Natalie Blackburn | December 16, 2008 3:08 AM

Good job Scotties. I have an ex-girlfriend who attends ASC and I've been on campus a bit (I attend UGA in Athens). This is totally superficial. I'm glad to know that the little schools have problems getting the admins to listen sometimes too.


I dig what you're saying and I agree with you. I think that if alum wants to support other students it is a good idea to pick a specific area within the College to donate--a department where one knows the students' best interests are really at heart.

Honestly, what I want is an apology and promise to never enter into a contract like this again. The fact that President Kiss seems to be defending the decision, especially in the face of angry objections, very much concerns me and it makes me lose confidence in the judgement of the administration.

But I don't want other students to suffer; I just want the admins to get the point that their selling us out is not acceptable. I am especially angry that they removed any student flyers of protest. Way to silence the women who you claim to be strengthening a voice in...

I really enjoyed your post. I am a Bryn Mawr College alum and really enjoyed being in a (mostly) safe haven for lesbians. I heard that there was a film made there the year after I left, but have no idea what it was. I hope that the students at my alma mater didn't have the same awful experience as you did.

It's important if the college says their priority is to "challenge" (BMC) or "strengthen" (Agnes Scott?) women, they better well damn stick to it.

Otherwise, what is the point of a woman's college?

I'm over at Georgia State a little ways over (so to speak). Amen! I'm always highly skeptical of numerous "cost-saving" schemes that colleges pull in the first place- but this? Well beyond the pale.

Especially "the consent to be filmed" part. To fully access my own campus, I have to aid in the making of a film where I cannot maintain some semblance of dignity? I don't think so. Were I an impulsive person, I would start throwing rocks at cameras. I think the t-shirt idea above- much more appropriate and imaginative.

Still, lending your college over to a "Beer Pong" movie. Seriously? Someone lacks some clearheaded common-f**king-sense up in admin and deserves to be fired repeatedly. From a cannon if possible. Sorry about the swearing and anger thing, but this is just so damn moronic.

I only hope it's not too late to do anything about it. Most of the time, these things tend to get "discovered" to late for any real action, and it would be a real pity if they've already finished up and gotten away with it. It's... infuriating.

While I wholeheartedly agree with being outraged when events occur that we believe don't reflect our values or what we feel is the mission of the college, but it seems counter-profductive to list a VERY few notes about the school's finances (about which they are transparent) and declare a single student's tuition could make up for the revenue generated by discontinuing distasteful movie shoots. Not only would cutting off a revenue stream be bad for ASC in these economic times, it would also end many of the perks Agnes women enjoy, expect to find, and hope to see on our lovely campus...things like liberal tuition assistance & scholarships, SGA funding, a living wage for staff, free student counseling, safe spaces and accommodations for our trans students and more.

Student tuition doesn't cover what it costs to be educated at ASC and rather than end filming on campus (or, as done on Facebook, call for the end of alumnae giving to the Annual Fund) perhaps 3000 of us could give $10 (or if 1500 of us give $20) we could replace the revenue offered by this distasteful movie. Or maybe we could give enough that the college could hire a person to review scripts for content before committing to allow filming.

We can volunteer our expertise to our alma mater and affect the changes we would like to see in "the World for Women." So I applaud your passion and I ask that you and others create avenues for change that empower women, are aligned with the ASC mission, and help the college keep its door open - ethics intact.

Scottie for Life | January 22, 2009 9:51 PM


I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet, but Pres. Kiss did send out an e-mail to the campus community soon after this blog post. All films now must be approved by a student committee (among other committees) and there must be some type of educational opportunity for Agnes students while they're filming (presentations, internships, etc). The film crew also must undergo sensitivity training. I hate that people are saying they're glad they didn't come here because of this--Agnes Scott has really changed my life and I think it's amazing that students rose up and our voices were heard.

WOW! What interesting comments about the desisions of this college. I thought, and have heard, that ASC is a great college for young women and was glad that my daughter was thinking about applying. After reading the above comments I suggested to my daughter that she look into what had been going on with the movies and she was able to see through the double standard of having such high moral standards as a college and then allowing such non-moral movies to be filmed on campus. Long story short; she decided on her own that ASC is not the college for her. She was very disappointed.