Debunking Myths about Female Students on Campus

10/05/2011 02:54 pm ET | Updated Dec 05, 2011

I'm not going to lie: I love a good rumor -- unless it's about me, of course. But a number of myths float around college campuses about female students and general expectations of women that simply aren't true.

A college campus has served as a place where women thrive and gender roles are constantly evolving and redefined. They can also feel unjust and unequal at times as a result of stereotyping and misogynistic behavior. Chauvinism is inherently in college and university culture because of the sexism ingrained in American society as a whole.

I've found Syracuse University to encompass a combination of both feminist and sexist attitudes, leaving female students to choose between objectification or empowerment.

A number of myths relating to young women on campus permeate college culture and Syracuse University specifically. With thousands of new students on campus, now is a better time than ever to debunk these myths.

Watching your calorie intake is not necessary because the freshman 15 is a myth. The notorious freshman 15 has the potential to cause too many eating disorders or body image issues that can be easily avoided. There's nothing wrong with indulging in some Acropolis Pizza or Insomnia Cookies as long as your diet maintains a healthy balance. There are also healthier and more fun alternatives to starving yourself -- go for an evening run while the weather's still nice or sign up for "Power Yoga" at Archbold Gym. Women's activism is not dead.

One of the most common misconceptions about our generation is that we're only online, or too online for our own good. Internet and social networking may play an integral role in our social, academic and professional interactions, but it does not limit our experiences to only online activities. Huge numbers of volunteerism and activism take place on this campus; for instance, the Vagina Monologues and Take Back the Night are two of the many activist events that draw a large physical presence from students.

Women and gender studies courses don't encourage male bashing or hairy armpits. Although there may be some women and gender studies students who hate men and don't like to shave their armpits, this is more often than not an extreme stereotype that scares people away from engaging in important conversations about gender. Seeking equality between all sexes, genders and sexualities has nothing to do with physical appearance, and this misconception can actually be harmful to women's rights and equality movements.

Girls will be social outcasts for the rest of their college careers if they don't join a sorority. Greek life is one of many ways to find a niche and home on campus, but plenty of underclassmen women opt out of participating. It's an effective way to meet people during your freshman and sophomore years, but do it out of genuine interest rather than peer pressure. Don't think that it's the only means of achieving a sense of sisterhood at SU.

If you wear a short skirt, you're asking for it. Slut shaming is all too common on college campuses and all students and faculty should highly prioritize eliminating this consistently perpetuated view. If a girl wears a short dress or a low shirt, that's her prerogative and by no means does it qualify for any kind of sexual assault, whether it be verbal or physical. Instead of focusing on the female survivors and victims of sexual attacks and what they're wearing, worry about the men who initiate these kinds of acts.

Girls only watch sports to hang out with guys. Clearly, those who believe this kind of bull hockey have never sat in the SU student section for a basketball game, a student section similar to many others that are filled with female fans just as involved as their male counterparts. SU football, basketball and lacrosse games are all especially packed with record-breaking numbers of students each season, and women are always at the forefront of this fan base. I'm pretty sure I know a chick or two who can debate any guy on campus about the intricacies of college basketball.

This article originally appeared in The Daily Orange.