Students stripped of right to bear poles

Our neighbors to the north at Jacksonville University sure know how to throw a party. And the students spared no expense at a recent dorm party: a $100 gift certificate, red felt carpet and oh, yeah: a stripper pole.

Turns out, three JU students built a stripper stage inside their on-campus apartment. It served as the center of attention at a Sept. 11 party that ultimately led to the students getting busted, punished and being ordered to remove the pole, an Associated Press story reported.

According to the story, about 12 women competed for a $100 Victoria’s Secret gift certificate. No full-on nudity; just good old female seductive moves. It couldn’t have been as dirty as the stuff Elizabeth Berkley, who played Jessie Spano on Saved by the Bell, did in Showgirls. Think Jamie Lee Curtis in the movie True Lies when her character does a stripper’s dance with a tall bed post. Just sexy enough for a mom. But not too raunchy. Of course, this is all just speculation.

Part of me says you have to give these guys credit for their entrepreneurial efforts. They had a vision. “We just wanted to say we had a stripper pole,” 20-year-old James Foster, who hosted the party, told the Florida Times-Union.

To make it a reality, Mr. Foster and his crew went to The Home Depot for a steel pole. They found a way to bolt it to a concrete ceiling and decorate a wooden stage at the bottom of the pole with red felt. Proper presentation is very important.

Mr. Foster’s story about simply wanting bragging rights may have stuck if it weren’t for the signs saying “Pole Dancers Wanted” found around the campus. There was no report on what led to school officials finding out about the party, but taking pictures of the clothed dancers probably wasn’t the smartest thing in the world, especially if those photographs got out.

School administrators said one of the rules broken by the men was a policy banning lewd and indecent behavior. That’s all well and good, but only the men responsible for building the pole received punishments. The women who wrapped themselves around the pole reportedly walked away without a tainted record.

One of the resident advisers said the party degraded the women. Perhaps they thought that was punishment enough. But I don’t see how. The men at the party had to pay a $5 cover charge. The women at the party got in for free. No one had to dance for dinner at this thing. If a woman wanted to get drunk and do a dirty dance on a pole before a room full of men guzzling beer, shouldn’t she be allowed? That’s not degrading women; that’s a woman not having any respect for herself. Perhaps she just exudes so much confidence and loves her body so much, she wanted to dance on the pole.

Then why not give the women a slap on the wrist as well? The message I hear from this is that it’s Okay for the women to perform “lewd and indecent” acts as long as they are performed at a place where such behavior is allowed.

Universities seem to be fighting a losing battle when it comes to monitoring the behavior of students in on-campus housing and enforcing the rules. College is a time of rebellion for some. It may be a stripper pole today, but who knows what next weekend’s bash may bring. School officials can write rule after rule after rule, but as these JU residents proved, students will always find a way to build around them.

Kevin Graham is a former Oracle Editor in Chief.