By Gabrielle Martinez
First-year Callie Rosenwasser is suddenly frozen in the moment. Once again, she is in a situation that has become all too familiar. She cannot help but wonder, “What will it be this time?” and “How will they react?” The scenarios play in her mind as she tries to come back to reality and face the question head on.
The simple question of, “What’s your major?” never seems to be simple for Rosenwasser.
A passionate choice that only affects her and her future yields an assortment of opinions, the majority of those being negative. But one thing always holds true for the reaction, the tight smile and look that follow. It is a look full of judgment and a false assumption that she must only be enrolled at SMU for one thing.
Every time Rosenwasser is asked about her major, she responds. Then she waits, to gather and catalogue yet another ill-informed response to her major, fashion media. A major that she has been passionate about since she was 11 years old.
A late night viewing of “Project Runway” ignited her interest in the world of fashion. Fashion coupled with her love of writing fit perfectly into SMU’s fashion media major.
These interactions and the perceptions exasperate Rosenwasser. She said her choice to attend SMU was about her and her passions.
“I am not here to work on ‘we,’ I am here to work on me,” Rosenwasser said.
SMU is still laden with the notion that female students come to SMU as a façade when their real intentions are to get married. Meadows students, primarily those within the fashion media major, seem to endure the brunt of this criticism.
According to fashion media students, those within other schools do not always see the degree for what it is: a path that encompasses journalism, broadcast, public relations and business. The automatic assumption is that because it is fashion-related, a girl chose the major because it was easy.
Rita Kirk, professor and director of the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, said she has seen the negative connotation applied to students during her 26 years at SMU. Kirk believes individuals should embrace those who choose to pursue a different profession, like fashion media, to eliminate the negative connotation surrounding it.
“The idea that people who decide to stay home to rear their children, contribute to the community, run the PTAs, serve in nonprofit organizations and houses of worship, and volunteer for all manner of community causes are somehow less than those who enter the paid workforce is an absurd argument,” Kirk said.
Kirk said this issue branches beyond students and is an issue with the values individuals place on others.
“Individuals — both men and women — are often called to lead lives that others don’t value,” Kirk said. “That’s when we have to dig deep into our own value systems to reaffirm our decisions and to lead honorable lives regardless of others’ opinions.”
Students within the fashion media major are working to break away from the “ring by spring” and “MRS degree” stigma of female SMU students during the 1950s. They instead said they are looking for a different ring: a class ring.
“I just never saw myself getting married right after graduation. My focus was graduating, working and then getting married,” junior fashion media major Gabriela De La Cabada said.
Prospective students interested in attending SMU for the fashion media major must follow the same admissions process to be accepted. This application process includes GPA requirements, admissions essays, recommendation letters and more.
Despite the same application process, Rosenwasser said students within the fashion media major feel as though their degree does not hold the same weight as others.
“It’s like being less respected because it is all fashion,” Rosenwasser said. “You aren’t an engineer, and you aren’t in business.”
Rosenwasser said that Meadows majors consistently work to stay dedicated and focus on their areas of study.
“I think a lot of students who aren’t in Meadows don’t see the work that goes into being a Meadows student; that is the biggest failing and in that they assume that many students in Meadows are there for the MRS degree,” Rosenwasser said. “But you have to have a serious drive and passion to go after a lot of the majors.”
Rosenwasser said she will not let the misconceptions get in the way of her passion.
”I fire back. I am not going to let you just say this stuff; I am going to disprove you, show you you’ve been disproved.” Rosenwasser said. “I am not going to let you keep these misconceptions and harm those working for something they love.”