“I find it more than a little ridiculous that Housing officials are required to waste their time reporting trivial occurrences such as this phallic snow object.”
The University of Michigan continued to struggle with its official position on sexuality, snow and freedom of expression when a Hall Director reported a giant snow penis as a bias-incident. The confluence of these three much discussed topics was too much to go undocumented. The phallic creation in question appeared outside of the Bursley residence hall on North Campus following the snow storm that blanketed Ann Arbor earlier in the day.
Bias-incidents, according to the Student Life Website, are “incidents that make people feel targeted because of their social identity group membership.” Based on this definition, it is unclear if the bias incident report was generated because of the perceived white male privilege displayed by the pearly member rising up from the ground or because of inadequate sex representation as no efforts had been made to create a snow vagina. It is also possible that the white penis was targeted symbolically, as the university was unable to prevent Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to the school the evening before. Either way, the snowy creation was deemed something that needed to be taken “very seriously” by the university community.
It is also possible that the white penis was targeted symbolically, as the university was unable to prevent Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to the school the evening before.
One member of Residential Staff, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Michigan Review, “I find it more than a little ridiculous that Housing officials are required to waste their time reporting trivial occurrences such as this phallic snow object.”
Generating the report, however, is only the beginning of the Hall Directors work, which will continue post-incident. According to Student Life, “after a bias incident occurs, staff focus on rebuilding trust in the community, restoring relationships, repairing harm, and fostering healthy communication.” Undoubtedly the Bursley community has been harmed by the snow penis and will be relying on staff support to rebuild relationships and trust long after the snow melts.
Students living in housing who feel targeted by other snow objects, whiteboard drawings or challenging ideas are encouraged to document these events as bias-incidents to help “maintain inclusive residential environments.”
The Residential Staff member who spoke with the Michigan Review explained his concerns with housing policy that led to a pile of snow being reported: “In the real world, no one cares about stuff like this. It is the height of privilege and entitlement to be obsessively concerned with utterly inconsequential events such as this.”
Yet the “real world” will soon be in the hands of today’s college students. This potential future might jeopardize even the classic snowman in favor of a gender, sex and color neutral version.