By BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Intern
Students and female athletes made a powerful statement April 16 when they began their “See Us” campaign at Minnesota State Mankato.
“The campaign’s purpose is to spread awareness of the underrepresentation, sexualization and judgements made toward female athletes based on their appearances rather than talented abilities,” said Callie Rohlik, the head of MSU’s campaign.
Rohlik and her group of fellow honors program members, Olivia Thomas, Samuel Oluwadoromi and Mellary Jayathunge, got the idea from Courtney Place, a student-athlete from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S. D., who started the campaign at her school a few months ago.
“’See Us’ had been getting an increasing recognition from female athletes and supporters throughout southwestern Minnesota and I wanted to aid in her expansion by bringing it to MSU,” Rohlik said. “An MSU softball athlete had served as a rep for her movement and I knew fellow female athletes at Minnesota State would love to join the movement as well.
Rohlik, her group and athletes set up a table in the Centennial Student Union with a bright pink display board with the “See Us” logo surrounding an opening where athletes could pose for a picture, which was then sent to social media with the #SEEUS hashtag.
The campaign focus comes from various injustices female athletes face compared to male athletes. A study done by Cheryl Cooky and Nicole Lavoi that analyzed women’s sports after Title IX found that the media coverage for female athletics was only two percent of all news coverage in 2009.
“That particular statistic was appalling to my group members and myself,” Rohlik said. “We believe there’s no reason female athletics shouldn’t be broadcasted just as often as male sporting events.”
Rohlik expressed that injustice for female athletes doesn’t end with broadcast inequality.
“Another issue lies within the perspectives and comments viewed and made by many throughout the world. These statements regard sexualizing females based on their uniforms or judging their incredible talents through negative statements like, ‘Well she’s really good, but that’s because she’s basically a man. Did you see those quads?’” she said. “These judgmental comments are why we joined Courtney’s movement and what we are trying to place an end to.”
Rohlik says students can show support for the movement by following “See Us” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by being active fans at female athletic events.
“Support those that are underrepresented and respect their amazing athletic talents just as one would a male athlete.”
Rohlik, Thomas, Oluwadoromi and Jayathunge are all members of MSU’s Honors Program and were inspired to become activists for “See Us” after going through the “Social Change in the 21st Century” seminar, which is apart of the Honors Program. More information for “See Us” can be found by visiting the movement’s social media pages “See Us Movement.”