Western says no to swim calendar

BELLINGHAM — Western Washington University has told a former student he cannot sell his “Women of Western Swimsuit Calendar” on campus after the school received complaints that it was demeaning to women.

“I asked why and they said it doesn’t fit within university’s mission statement,” WWU grad and calendar creator Jason La Baw said. “My response to that was, ‘How does selling hot dogs fit within the university mission statement?’ “

Jim Schuster, director of Viking Union facilities, oversees vendors row, a sales area on campus. Schuster said several people complained about the calendar to his office and to the office of the vice president of student affairs, both this quarter and last.

Sherry Mallory, special assistant to the vice president, said the choice to remove it from campus was based on the school’s “Sale of Goods and Services” policy, which says goods and services sold on campus “shall be consistent with the aims of the University, shall enhance the campus environment, and shall not interfere with the University’s normal operation.”

“We realized that this really doesn’t tie into enhancing the campus environment (like the food services do),” Mallory said.

La Baw said complaints that the calendar demeans women are misdirected.

“We showed the women as more than just being pretty,” he said, noting that a biography of each woman lists her major and interests. “We’re showing beautiful women as being smart, intelligent, doing the things they do in real life.”

He said 300 people have joined an online group supporting the calendar, and he will circulate a petition asking Schuster to reconsider.

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