Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 4, 2005
Understated, overdue women's plaza a big step in right direction
"Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them." - Aristotle
In 1895 the UA graduated three students from its first class, two of whom were female.
On Friday the UA graduated in a sense, becoming one of three universities across the country to erect a monument honoring women.
To say that the Women's Plaza of Honor is a necessary monument for our campus would be an understatement. To say that the plaza will be a catalyst for social change would be an overstatement.
Far better would be to recognize that the plaza sets in stone what the campus community has long understood: Women form an important part of the UA's history.
When Mercedes Anna Shibell and Mary Flint Walker received their degrees more than 100 years ago, they forged a path of excellence that hundreds of thousands of alumni have followed.
Some would argue that the plaza's $818,000 price tag, paid entirely through donations, could be better spent in the classroom. However, a quick walk through the monument provides an education no class could.
It is impressive that the UA has created a space where the community can learn about the women who have helped shape the university, and that commitment reflects the very mission of this institution.
While the bust of John "Button" Salmon and his immortal words burn in the hearts of UA students and alumni, there would be no Pride of Arizona marching band to play "Bear Down, Arizona" without philanthropist Louise Foucar Marshall.
Before there was a building dedicated to Marshall, there was a foundation bearing her name providing immense financial support to the UA.
At roughly the same time JF "Pop" McKale was coaching on campus, Ina E. Gittings was teaching physical education.
President Peter Likins may have final say on decisions that impact students, but he wouldn't dream of making them without consulting Saundra Taylor, senior vice president for Campus Life. Taylor, calm and committed to students, carries immense favor with the president because of her integrity and character.
Every student - male and female - is lucky to have a space dedicated to these impressive figures of the past and present.
While understated and somewhat unpleasing to the eye, the plaza is a symbolic step toward much-needed equality.
It won't raise the average salary a woman receives and it won't erase gender stereotypes and misogyny. But ultimately the Women's Plaza of Honor provides to women what Virginia Woolf described as "A Room of One's Own," and no price tag can be put on that space.
Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Ryan Johnson, Damion LeeNatali, Aaron Mackey, Mike Morefield and Tim Runestad.