Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd won’t be entertaining any overnight lovers – at least not on the campus of Alabama State University.
Boyd, 58, Alabama State University’s first female president, signed a contract presented by the university’s trustees that included an unusual – and perhaps sexist – stipulation: She can’t have lovers stay overnight at her residence on campus.
“For so long as Dr. Boyd is President and a single person, she shall not be allowed to cohabitate in the President’s residence with any person with whom she has a romantic relation,” the contract stated.
Some women were quick to criticize Alabama State University, an historically black college, as a throw-back to the dark ages and a setback for women’s equality issues.
Lisa Maatz, vice president of government relations at the American Association of University Women, told NPR that she would be “amused” if she wasn’t so disappointed.
“At this point are we going to be monitoring sleepovers? Does she have a curfew?” Maatz asks. “It felt disrespectful, quite frankly, to me.”
Only about 20 percent of the nation’s universities have a female president so some women are asking whether other male presidents at Alabama State University were given contracts with the same conditions.
And who monitors the comings and goings of Boyd’s evening guests?
Is there someone hired to stake out Boyd’s residence and rat her out if someone spends the night? And what is considered “overnight?”
When would Boyd be in violation of her contract? – 1 a.m., 2 a.m. 5 a.m., if she entertains someone in the evening?
And what exactly do trustees mean by “cohabitate?”
Here’s the definition for co•hab•it:
“to live together as if married, usually without legal or religious sanction.”
“to live together in an intimate relationship.”
So are university officials saying Boyd can’t have overnight “lovers” or she just can’t live with anyone?
And here’s another troubling aspect of this contract. What’s the subliminal message? That Boyd isn’t capable of using good judgment and could tarnish the school’s reputation with romantic liaisons on campus?
One thing is clear: Alabama State University trustees appear to want Boyd focused and with no distractions.
Maatz told NPR that she’s not aware of similar contractual obligations at other universities. In fact, Maatz said, University of Alabama President Judy Bonner is single, and her terms of employment contain no stipulations about her romantic life or whether guests can sleep overnight at the president’s mansion in Tuscaloosa.
“So she’s still a pretty rare breed. I commend the board of directors for hiring a woman — for having those kind of blinders and hiring the best candidate for the job,” Maatz said of Boyd. “But I do wonder if there still isn’t a bit of a double standard here for the kind of rules and expectations they have for a female president.”
According to NPR, “a statement attributed to Alabama State University officials says the clause has nothing to do with Boyd but with the increasing degrees of scrutiny that university presidents face as the top image-makers — the ” ‘living brand’ of the schools that employ them.”
Perhaps Alabama State University trustees are simply protecting the integrity of the historically black college and making sure that Boyd remains a Christian role model for the female students who attend the university.
Boyd, meanwhile, said she reviewed the contract, signed it, and is moving on.
“I can read; I read my contract thoroughly, I knew what I was signing and I have no issue with it at all,” Boyd said in a statement.
Before accepting the job at Boyd at Alabama State University, Boyd was executive assistant to the chief of staff in the applied physics lab at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Boyd has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Yale and a doctorate in divinity from Howard University. President Obama recently named her to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
It’s clear that Boyd was eager to accept her new position at Alabama State University and get to work. So if Boyd doesn’t have a problem with her controversial contract, why should anyone else?
What do you think?