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Sociology grads take 1st and 2nd Place in National Competition

Nicole Hansen ’16 and Casey Schuller ’16 Take Top Honors

Two recent Colorado College graduates, both sociology majors who graduated cum laude, have place first and second in the national Alpha Kappa Delta Undergraduate Paper Competition.

Nicole Hansen ’16, of Baltimore, took first place with her paper titled “Sexual Assault as a ‘Social Fact’: A Cross-Campus Analysis,” and Casey Schuller ’16, of Newburyport, Massachusetts, took second with “Haute Couture, Baggy Jeans, and L’homme Virile: Hegemonic Masculinity in French and U.S. Men’s Magazine Advertisements.”

The annual competition is sponsored by Alpha Kappa Delta, the international sociology honor society. Colorado College has had five winners place first or second during the past 10 years, but never two in the same year. “This is a big deal and we’re very excited,” says Associate Sociology Professor Gail Murphy-Geiss. “Every winner has been fabulous, but to have two in one year is especially fun!” 

In addition to Hansen and Schuller both receiving cash prizes, they win automatic entry into the American Sociological Association’s Honors Program, which Includes a trip to the ASA meeting this summer in Montreal, where they will receive their awards.

Hansen’s study addresses the structural causes of sexual assault by analyzing assault rates across institutions. In a sample of 23 American universities, she used regression models to examine the factors associated with overall rates of sexual assault among undergraduate females and males, and disaggregated rates among females. “High levels of institutional support for sexual assault survivors are associated with decreased rates of assault among females and males, while high rates of fraternity membership and being an NCAA football bowl subdivision school are associated with increased rates of sexual assault among females alone,” she writes. “I conclude by drawing attention to the gendering of environments that are hospitable to sexual assault and calling on institutions to address the structural problems that create such conditions.”

Schuller, in her paper, notes that media both produces and responds to social constructions and norms of gender, race, class, and sexuality. She asks: “How do portrayals of masculinity in men’s magazine advertisements vary between France and the United States?” and “Do those advertisements reflect the displays of masculinity seen on the street?”

Using 13 variables to operationalize U.S. hegemonic masculinity, she coded advertisements from five U.S. and five French men’s magazines. In addition, qualitative observation was conducted in Boston and Lyon, France. The variables of “direct eye gaze” and “stoic expression” were recognized representations of masculinity across both countries.

However, Schuller writes that the most prominent variables in the United States showed men as athletic and outdoorsy, while French advertisements focused on clothing, particularly business suits and high fashion, and street observations confirmed these findings. “Knowing the expectations of masculinity in different countries is critical to understanding how that masculinity interacts with femininity and subordinated masculinities,” Schuller writes.

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