Student car project shut down over racy photos - Macleans.ca
 

Student car project shut down over racy photos

UWaterloo says incident ‘denigrating to women’


 

A team of engineers at the University of Waterloo who are building a race car have had their project shut down over a photograph taken of a woman in front of the car wearing a bikini and high heels. The students had been slated to take part in an international competition to be held in Michigan next month, but will be unable to because their suspension is effective until June 1.

The woman, who is a member of the team, was planning to submit the photo to a calendar that is apparently intended to promote intelligence and beauty, with partial proceeds going towards the Canadian Cancer Society. Several other members of student team were involved in the photo shoot as well.

Dean of engineering Adel Sedra has given two reasons for shutting down the project. In an initial statement to engineering students, he stated that the photographs were taken  using university property without permission. “The suspension results from misuse of the Student Design Centre space for an unauthorized photo shoot involving the Formula SAE vehicle.”

Then in an interview with the Record on Thursday, Sedra spoke to the nature of the photos taken. “I believe the incident that took place can be thought of as denigrating to women.”


 
Filed under:

Student car project shut down over racy photos

  1. How dumb is this? Yet another example of sexist political correctness gone mad. If a male student complained about girls having barechested firemen calenders in their dorms or on the walls of the university he would be laughed at, villified by female students calling the poster harmless fun and be the butt of jokes for as long as the complaint was remembered. If a woman does the same thing it’s “Oh no, how disgustingly sexist, we must see to it that foul acts of abuse like this against we poor, innocent totally sexless women are stamped out, the students responsible have their lives destroyed publicly and their academic careers put on hold!” How pathetically fool who decided to suspend the students should be fired and have his name dragged through the mud publicly.

  2. First of all, this is an overstatement of the punishment. The students were denied access to the facility, which meant that they could not compete in an upcoming race. That is all. They were not censured academically, and most certainly did not have their lives destroyed publicly. So first of all, we need to tone down the rhetoric of the issue.

    Second, this has to be placed in the context of a Canadian university-wide effort to reduce the sexism and fraternity atmosphere in engineering departments.

    Third, while the content of the photograph was one reason behind the suspension, another serious violation took place, which was the misuse of high-tech facilities.

    • I think saying that they are “denied access to the facility ” and “could not compete in an upcoming race” is an understatement of the punishment…

      Having friends in FSAE here at the UofA, these students spend hundreds of hours in design and construction work every year to build a new race car from scratch. They do this explicitly to compete in the FSAE competitions, which have an incredibly high profile and attract tons of people from the automotive industry. These students will be missing out on a chance to not only connect with industry members, but teams from around the world as well. To be clear, competing the FSAE competition is the PRIMARY purpose of their student group. So missing the the competition is kind of a BIG DEAL.

      Next, being denied access to the facility essentially means they will not be able to work on their car until June 1st at all. Working on a race car requires highly specialized tools that not every student just “has”. It essentially means the group is de facto shut down until June 1. You are right that its not the end of the world, but it does suck a lot to see something you have devoted a tremendous amount of time and effort to simply taken away from you.

      To address your second point, how does telling women they are not allowed to pose in bikinis serve to reduce sexism? The entire point of the equality movement is that women should be perfectly allowed to wear things like bikinis without having to worry about being viewed as “racy” or “slutty”, in the same vein that a man can walk down a street without his shirt on without a second thought. I would argue that saying that female engineers aren’t allowed to look attractive or sexy in any way is a blow to the work of feminists and equalists everywhere. Especially since the photoshoot was done in good faith. Its not like these were destined for Playboy here…

      To address your third point: was the facility harmed in any way shape or form? The only thing I read is that it smelled like gasoline fumes, which last time I checked, wasn’t even stressed as an issue. If safety was truly that important to the Faculty, why wasn’t it bolded and highlighted first? Sounds like they were just trying to cover their asses after the backlash…

    • So I guess that if these college kids abuse alcohol or have sex with multiple partners during their stay at the university perfectly fine? Maybe even having a drunk girl naked in their dorm room? Oh, wait, that never happens. Kids never do those kinds of things in college…

  3. Finally, a fundamental issue is that part of being a student is learning how to behave appropriately in the real world. I suspect that an unauthorized bikini photo shoot would get most of us reprimanded at our jobs. These students are lucky enough to be attending a world-class university and further to have access to a high-tech lab where they can do this kind of research. They failed to live up to those responsibilities and were punished.

    Questioning the integrity of the dean–who is one of Canada’s leading engineers and a decorated academic–based on this decision is unfair.

    • Spoken like someone truly removed from the issue. You’re as out of touch as the administration involved.

      • I think that he very eloquently articulated why the students fully deserved to be reprimanded. It is you who is truly removed from the issue.

    • Why would doing an “unauthorized bikini shoot” in many other university situations bear any reprimand? What if this was an athlete posing by a pool in a bikini for a photoshoot? Would that athlete then be barred from future competitions? What if an fine arts student decided to take a picture in a bikini beside a sculpture she made of a palm tree? What reprimand would that deserve?

      Yes, if you’re working at a stuck up white collar company with no sense of humor, than you would probably be fired… But how was this the case here? These are young university students who went out of their way to promote a positive view of women in engineering. And frankly, I don’t see how these photos would have been anything BUT positive.

  4. As for the replies… what utter rubbish. Sedra quite clearly said that the photo shoot was denigrating to women. The misuse of facilities is a side issue, clearly the main issue is the picture. Which by the way was on the subject of beauty and brains. And also the female student chose the attire herself. I guess she must have been brainwashed by those dirty filthy sex crazed male students who according to all feminists are potential rapists. Agreed their are rules in place about how facilities are to be used. The safety concern is however totally overstated. If these buildings are supposedly so high tech, why has no mention been made of the ability of the hvac systems to clear exhaust fumes, something that is not mentioned by Sedra. He stated that one of his concerns was to do with exhaust fumes resulting from the movement of vehicles… However, I am amazed at the total lack of attention given to my post on fireman type calenders and posters. As far as I am concerned, all female and male students should now be suspended if they have any picture of partially clothed men or women on their walls. The students dorms on campus are also part of the university and a rule should be in place to stop pictures of this type being displayed, whether they are male or female offenders. Let’s see how long it takes for the rule to be rescinded because fireman calenders or barechested shots of men are “innocent” fun, not sexist.

    • So, which pat was denigrating to the female, the fact that young women look good in a bikini, or the fact that a woman dares try to compete with men in this male oriented profession? I’ll bet if the pic was of some hot young male in just bicycle shorts, nothing would have been said or done.

    • I understand that some women might be offended by this picture but remember that the female depicted in this picture did this of her own free will. I am sick of women who complain about being objectified and then blame those taking the pictures. So long as people buy these pictures, models, photographers and distributors would be crazy not to make profit off of it! Just like the saying “hate the player, not the game”, women around the world have to stop blaming the media for “objectifying them” and start looking at their husbands, fathers and brothers who post these pictures in and around the house!

  5. And if you think that being “outed” for the photoshoot is not marking the students as sexist offenders, why not go and ask them for their view, Geoff…

  6. What about a women’s right to her own body?

    • What about it?

      • You are a follower – and as your reply required no thought, it is of no consequence.

    • In Canada they passed a law allowing women to go topless. I don’t think women are taking this law seriously enough.

  7. If there were a consistent policy, consistently carried out, concerning the “use of University property without permission”, that would be one thing. But if the content of the photograph in any way influenced the decision – which seems likely – the officials responsible should be censured unmercifully.

  8. As a University of Waterloo Engineering student, I am disgraced to see the type of dictatorship and injustice provided by Dean Sedra. Should the individuals be reprimanded for the unauthorized photo shoot? Yes. It was a breech of policy. However, to punish all members of the team, of which we do not know whether they even had knowledge of the incident, is unjust and harsh. I sincerely hope that this decision gets reviewed not only for these students, but also for future student teams. This has already negatively affected sponsorship deals (see the link to the Record article), and may limit the interest of future students, out of fear of not being able to compete due to others’ lack of judgement. First the laser logo fiasco, then steroid scandal, now this…. Macleans may want to reconsider their decision to declare UWaterloo to have the best reputation in Canada.

    • I think you need a glass of water and a breath of fresh air. Please try to regain your composure. Besides, what YOU think about the university of waterloo is irrelevant. You are still paying $5000 tuition for a shot at their recognition.

      • Besides the fact that your attack was completely ad hominem, I completely fail to see how his opinion is irrelevant just because he goes there?

        You’re paying taxes to the federal government every year, does that preclude you from criticizing the structure of our government? Frankly, Matt’s opinion is much more relevant than yours as he is actually affected by the issue. What is exactly the weight that your opinion carries, other than the fact that you the way you carry yourself makes you sound like an arrogant prick? (Two can play at the ad hominem game, monsieur)

  9. Outstanding. Thanks for the blatant misuse of what you ddem ‘political correctness’ Waterloo. You know what’s degrading to women? The fact that you deem a woman in a bathing suit (with brains no less!) the epitome of disgrace.

    Waterloo is the disgrace to women. Maybe UBC should just shut itself down entirely considering the campus is littered with beaches filled with women in bathing suites.

    • What is outstanding here is your inability to see how these two situations are very different in terms of context and intent.

  10. U of M engineering student here. I don’t really care about what happened, I just want to see the pictures.

  11. Notice how the only person really backing the dean and these ridiculous measures taken against these students is Dilbert? I would be interested in seeing your hard work snatched from you for attempting to support a legitimate cause you believe in and see how you react differently to this. Calendars such as this are commonplace especially in university settings to fundraise for all sorts of important causes, yes they may have misused the facilities but the punishment does not fit the crime and has all sorts of collateral damage. I am glad I did not choose to attend waterloo this year. I would never want to be associated with a school where the most respected individual is a child.

  12. An appropriate measure would be to inform those involved of a policy (if there even is one), and to require them to turn in the photos and sign a statement that they deleted all copies and will not repeat the inappropriate action again.

    The administration overreacted, and their actions will affect their reputation more negatively then the students’ actions will.

  13. Look, Waterloo has perpetual gender issues on campus. It was only a few weeks ago that some nutter put up posters on campus effectively saying women were not welcome at UW, then sent a mass email claiming to be from the president saying how useless women are.

    THIS is the context in which the photo was taken: In a faculty that is vastly male dominated, on a campus that has problems with women being respected.

  14. To all those who think this is political correctness run amok – how many images have you ever seen of scantily-clad men posing with cars or other products, in the pages of magazines and newspapers? Uh, that’s right – almost none. Men’s bodies don’t get used to sell stuff.

    The dean and the university responded absolutely correctly in this case. Anyone who thinks that using a woman’s body and sex appeal to sell or promote a product is “empowering” is completely deluded – including the young woman herself, in this case. It may have been her choice to pose in a bikini next to the car, rather than let her intellectual contribution to the project stand on its own merits. But in making that choice, she is denigrating women in general and letting the rest of us down. Shouldn’t we be getting past all of this garbage by now? Why is it that, no matter how great a woman’s achievements may be, ultimately her value is determined by how “hot” she is?

    • Obviously, you haven’t picked a magazine within the last 5 years or so. There are PLENTY of adverstisements for colognes (remember the axe commercials?), clothing, atheletic gear etc. in which men are provocatively posed. h=How about firefigher calenders? I won’t address your comments about the dean’s decisions, but your statement that only women pose in this manner is blatantly false.

  15. I’m a senior who spent years working towards the advancement of women in non-traditional occupations – such as engineering.So this young woman has ‘made it’ in that program. The picture is using a sexy, female student in a bikini to promote the car. How about some nude men if you guys believe that sex/nudity sells?
    The model who feels what she did is O.K. may learn a big lesson when she graduates and hits the ‘glass ceiling’! The guys wont care then.

  16. I believe there are two sides to this argument, however the punishment seems extremely harsh. I feel badly for the students involved in the project. Months of effort were derailed by a harsh, draconian decision which will only serve to embitter them and enlighten no one.

  17. Save your parents money and take a trade. A plumber dosen’t object to an attractive woman in a picture next to his BMW.

  18. I really think the Dean of Waterloo over-reacted to the situation. On another note that girl is HOT!!! And being an engineer makes her even hotter!! You go girl!!

  19. Pt 1: if this sedra fellow knows how “life is out there”, how come he still lives in the 15th century?
    Pt 2: if he was so familiar with “life out there”, how come he is hiding in academia? Could it bee that he just didn’t cut it “out there”?
    Pt 3: if he is so educated, how come he doesn’t see his own censorship and abuse of authority?
    Anyway, the UofW is now badly damaged by the “dean”.

  20. The problems is WHERE she was posing, with little clothing in a place with strict safety requirements. Would posing in an anatomy lab that requires a lab coat, goggles and closed toe shoes be acceptable? No. Students are not allowed to attend classes with anything less than the required equipment, which is why they are requirements! The university does not want to be a liability. The students should have asked, or taken the photo somewhere more appropriate. I’m sure after spending all that time working on their car, they would have known about the guidelines.

  21. This sitution is quite simple. You are either in the conservative camp of being uncomfortable with the human body or are fine with expressing the the beauty of the human form. Why cloud the issue with opinionated morality and ethical standards? So push the yes or no button and spare us the political rhetoric.

  22. Anonymous Nobody: Are you suggesting that only Muslims care about women being exploited? You are an idiot.

    And to the other illiterate juveniles on this: There is no “Dean” of Waterloo. He is the Dean of a Faculty. Waterloo has many Deans (I believe about 7). He is just one of them.

    This has not “badly damaged” Waterloo. Get a life. People have already forgotten about the crazy who put up the nasty posters on campus and that was only a few weeks ago.

  23. I’d not want my engineering student daught attending a school where thus kind of BD us considered appropriate. To the Neanderthals that still didnt get it…try doing tis at your next coop placement. Seriously, I encourage you. Let us know it turns out for you, lol. Welcome to the grownup world future ‘professionals’

    • Agreed, DS. Funny, because female faculty don’t want to work at a place where this kind of thing is considered appropriate either. UWaterloo already has problems in that area: to allow this garbage to go on would only make that worse.

      But maybe some of the Neanderthals here just don’t see that a bikini does not belong in the workplace.

      • But in the right context is does. See my other post below. Myself and a fellow female engineer wore sports bras and shorts at a beach volleyball tournament that we entered with our WORKPLACE group. So in the right context, it can be perfectly okay, even for engineers. Neither of us was reprimanded for wearing sports-appropriate clothing when partaking in a sports event.

    • Funny, I’m an engineer, and at my workplace we took part in one of the beach volleyball competitions to raise money for charity. Guess what? I wore just a pair of jean shorts and a sports bra to the tournament, and it was considered perfectly acceptable due to the context. No, I don’t wear that kind of clothing in the office, but at the charity volleyball tournament is was perfectly okay.

      It’s the same thing with this photo. While the young woman wouldn’t dress like that to go to class every day, it was for a photo shoot for charity – so what’s wrong with that?

      We women in engineering need to be accepted for what we are: women who can be smart as well as sexy. We can be engineers and be feminine. We don’t have to wear “manly” clothes and have short hair. We can wear dresses, make-up, and other feminine articles, and still be smart, serious engineers. When appropriate, we can wear bikinis, tank tops, and sports bras, and show that we can be smart and sexy at the same time. Not all women engineers are “butch” types or tomboys. Some of us are very feminine.

      Heck, when I was a student, I wore a “Counsellor Troi” costume one year on Hallowe’en – wore it to class and everything that day. It was very tight and form-fitting, so while it wasn’t appropriate for everyday wear, it was perfectly okay on Hallowe’en.

      I’m very glad I didn’t go to Waterloo with this type of attitude towards women in engineering. No doubt I would have been kicked out for wearing my Hallowe’en costume.