My View

RIBS not CLASSy

On February 14, posters which were demeaning to women appeared on campus. They referred to a term known as RIBS, or Ratio Induced Bitch Syndrome, suggesting that the female to male ratio at the university leads women to have an inflated sense of themselves. This term and the posters do not reflect the values of our community and misrepresent us to each other as well as to those beyond our gates. Such acts offend the sensibilities of various community member’s sensibilities, attack other’s humanity, and by extension, offend us all.

At Rensselaer, we are all responsible for creating a safe, supportive, and inclusive community—where individuals seek to learn from each other while affirming the presence of our diverse perspectives, orientations, and experiences. An important goal is to enable all members of our campus community to thrive and become successful, while enabling the Institute to account for diversity within its model of intellectual rigor. There is nothing inclusive, affirming, or rigorous about calling any member of our community out of their name in this way.

As a community of thinkers, we are always working to encourage civil discourse and deep exploration of differences in an effort to expand our intellect and globalize our leadership outlook as a way to bring us together. In order to extend our work in this regard, I have asked a group of campus professionals to explore the RIBS acronym, and more broadly look into the way in which we actively create a community that enables women to thrive at Rensselaer. We will not be a community where a woman is referred to in this manner.

I am excited about the group’s work as it represents yet another manifestation of our ongoing commitment to using the Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students initiative as our comprehensive tool for continued student empowerment and success. CLASS is central to how we will articulate the distinct nature of our living and learning community.

CLASS does not reserve a space for any of our students to feel marginalized, demoralized, or called degrading names. Although some will say that the derogatory term is no longer degrading, many others disagree. We don’t have such persons in our community, no more than we have folks who might be called other similar names. We are a community of researchers and scholars, students, faculty, and staff, who are constantly seeking to become even better human beings. We must all be committed to encouraging the best in each other. Using this term to describe anyone is not only against our community standards, it is absolutely wrong and represents no CLASS.