Not all well with women at UVA

The recent Hook cover story, "Women at UVA" [July 17, 2003] ( is a fine summary of UVA's exhibit on its history with women. But both the article and exhibit seem limited to reinforcing some myths about the University and social life in general.

Myth#1: Institutions are more important than people. The article/exhibit is about women's attempts to attend the University, which pictures UVA as a goal to be attained by women rather than portraying its relationship to women in Charlottesville and abroad. A larger view would show us more than the incorporation of women into University life. It would demonstrate UVA's long-term disrespect for women in the working class, the effects of its land-grabbing on women and their families in poor neighborhoods, and more.

Myth #2: Despite the "everything is fine now" assertion ending both the Hook article and the exhibit, presumably because women now account for 55 percent of the student body, UVA continues to treat women in a most derogatory manner. How else to characterize the consistent low pay to women who do the hardest work at the University: cleaning halls, maintaining the grounds, and serving the food?

A living wage would be one step toward remedying the University's ugly policy toward women. Respecting the strong women's presence in SUUVA (Staff Union at UVA) by meeting regularly with union president Jan Cornell would be another.

The current UVA policy on women seems to be simple: "If you ain't rich, you're our b****."

It's about time that changed.

Andrew J. Holden