“Should Universities Ban Single-Gender Discussion Panels?” This was the title of an October 4th article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, which reported the recent controversial decision of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University to prohibit single-gender panels in order to increase the sharing of diverse perspectives. Reasonable people can probably disagree over the wisdom of such a policy, but there’s little doubt that rigid adherence to it can lead to the sort of awkward situation that occurred last week at the Stubblefield School of Nursing at Northern South Central Community College in Wichita, Kansas.
In Obstetrics 231 the topic of the day was, “What Does It Feel Like to Give Birth?” A panel of four NSCCC students — three young mothers and Toby Scalfani, a 20-year-old member of the men’s lacrosse team — participated. A rich exchange among the three women occupied the first half-hour of the session, at which point Mr. Scalfani was asked to share his lived experience of childbirth. “Wow, this is a tough one,” he responded, vigorously scratching his head. “But now that I think of it, I did get hit in the crotch with a lacrosse ball during a game with Wichita State last year, and believe me, that was no fun. I had to sit out the rest of the game, and I won’t even describe what it looked like down there. Lacrosse balls are solid, not hollow like tennis balls. When I got home that night, all I could keep down was some chicken broth that my mom made for me. So, yeah, I kinda know what it feels like to have a kid. It hurts big time!
“Did you know that a lacrosse ball can travel over 100 miles per hour when it’s flung by a lacrosse stick? A couple of weeks ago my friend Spackle demolished the door of a Dodge Ram 1500 when he took a close-up shot at it over at the car dealership that Brad Guernsey’s dad owns. It was midnight and we were pretty wasted. Lacrosse rules, man!”
Results of the panel were mixed. Several students in attendance decided to form a women’s lacrosse team, thereby strengthening NSCCC’s compliance with Title IX regulations. On the other hand, nearly half of the females who completed a post-panel survey indicated that they were re-thinking their decision to have children, especially if those children might turn out to be boys.