The Service for Justice Residential College hosted its annual Stereotype Fashion Show in the John A. Barone Campus Center on Wednesday, March 28. Service for Justice strives to provide students with opportunities and events that focus on diversity, social justice and service. As a signature event held by S4J, the fashion show exhibits various well-known stereotypes while the audience guesses what stereotype each model was dressed as. This year, all answers were entered into a site which were displayed onto a screen at the front of the room, and provoked conversation about the automatic assumptions people make about their peers.
Despite an initial low turnout, the students who attended the show appeared happy to be there and were extremely energetic. As the evening went on, the level of participation increased. When attendees became more secure in speaking on topics that are typically controversial in nature, the contributions became more confident and were met with respectful and educated responses by peers.
Junior Emma Unterkoefler reflected on this discussion, “the stereotype fashion show provided a fun platform to discuss issues that pervade our campus and society. When stereotypes are discussed it becomes clear that they are simply not true.”
The goal of the evening was to create a safe space where students felt comfortable asking questions about race, gender and ethnicity. Students were encouraged to challenge their typical judgments about people in their day to day life. One student modeled a robe and Bible in order to talk about the stereotypical view of a Catholic person. Another dressed in overalls with a pride flag to represent the stigma surrounding being LGBT+. Dressed in all black and walking to rap music, a female student showcased how the world views African Americans.
The room was filled with the curiosity of smiling students who watched their friends and peers strut across the floor in a fun and enlightening evening. “This is a brave space. We want you to say how you feel,” said Program Coordinator of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Jasmine Raghunandan ‘17.
Joselyne Ordonez ‘20 represented the “stereotypical commuter” of Fairfield University, sporting a Stag shirt, jeans, sneakers, large backpack and gym bag. She commented that, “someone had written down ‘She doesn’t even go here.’ And it feels a little true cause the Commuter Lounge is hidden, you know? People forget that there are students that commute.”
Ordonez participated in the show which was emceed by Jasmine Raghunandan and Sean Tomlinson ‘19, a senior resident assistant from 40 McCormick Road. “I hope people feel that they had a good conversation unpacking a few of the stereotypes because obviously we can’t sit here forever and go through every single one. I hope they had a good conversation – a beginning conversation I should say about stereotypes and why we use them and rely on them so heavily,” said Tomlinson.