Not so outstanding
Initially, the concept seems endearing — after all, who can criticize an honourable ceremony responsible for amassing incredible financial contributions?
On March 25, Wilfrid Laurier University will host the 10th annual Outstanding Women of Laurier award ceremony, presented by Waterloo Region’s Susan Cook-Scheerer and attended by Olympic gold medallists Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue.
The esteemed award’s logo reads, “Leaders of today, role models of tomorrow.” Initially, the concept seems endearing — after all, who can criticize an honourable ceremony responsible for amassing incredible financial contributions?
But the stipulations for eligibility prove otherwise. If you are not a female, on a varsity team or retain a leadership position in the departments of athletics, you are not eligible to be “outstanding” at Laurier.
While I am all for empowering women, this incredibly small and isolated group of admissible people is not representative of what I feel the title of “outstanding” merits. Surely there are women on campus who dedicate their time in academia to leading Laurier’s clubs and associations who might also be remarkable.
Perhaps too many male Golden Hawks go unnoticed for their exceptional commitment. What about our peers that do not associate with the confining labels of male or female; are they even further from being recognized as outstanding?
The admissibility is profoundly gendered and the award itself is appallingly bigoted, but the celebration encourages a broader discourse: should Laurier distinguish a collective of its most outstanding students each year outside of athletics?
Laurier is a small campus and its fascination with idolizing those in athletics as well as the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union does not go unnoticed. Whether it is an overhyped election or a massive wall mural in the Athletic Complex accompanied by calendars and massive advertisements promoting the same 15 people who are the face of this university, the rest of us, no matter how outstanding our contribution is, are rendered to obscurity.
There is something brilliant in basic recognition and in having the opportunity to meet esteemed speakers who have succeeded in something for which you share a passion. There are several other outstanding students at Laurier who go above and beyond to shape the way our campus functions and deserve a shot at being rewarded.
The Outstanding Women of Laurier award needs to reflect these other students; if it markets itself as a ceremony that awards outstanding women, it must widen its eligibility pool to include those women who are rightfully outstanding, but who are not affiliated with athletics.