A crowded party in an indoor space
Unsplash | Jacob Bentzinger

Student's "Hoe Union" Idea For Party Safety Catches On Online

Dan
June 17, 2022

College students often find themselves butting heads with professors and administrators. And because the internet loves drama, these beefs have a way of going viral.

A college student posted on Reddit about a "hoe union" she started with her friends. The goal was to stay safe at parties, but college administrators took exception to the idea.

"Am I the [jerk] for organizing a 'hoe union' of girls in my college?"

Exterior shot of a college campus
Unsplash | Zhanhui Li

This is how OP started her post on a subreddit dedicated to determining if a person was justified or simply being a jerk. The original post has been deleted by Reddit, but an archived version of it lives on.

The idea came from a good place.

A crowded party in an indoor space
Unsplash | Samantha Gades

OP says that she's "in a college organization that is also big on partying." She notes that college parties can be dangerous, particularly to women. "Kinda as a joke, I said to my friends that we should unionize," she wrote. "But they were 100 percent in on the idea."

The 'hoe union' was born.

Eight hands placed on top of each other
Unsplash | Hannah Busing

The union, consisting of six young women, laid out some ground rules. They pledged to skip any party that fit any of the following criteria:

-The party hosts or guests included someone with a history of sexual harassment.

-The party hosts or guests didn’t let women mix their own drinks and pick and open their own beers.

-The party hosts were racist, homophobic, fat phobic, or “otherwise bigoted” toward party guests.

-The party hosts tried to enforce a ratio of women to men.

-The party hosts had reputations for pushing freshmen or inexperienced drinkers to drink heavily.

Seems straightforward enough.

Silhouettes of people at a party
Unsplash | Baptiste MG

OP says that the union stuck to the rules. If a given party felt risky, union members would communicate via group chat and bail on the party.

The idea took off, too. "We also told other girls at the party about why we were leaving and where, and often had lots more girls leave with us."

Eventually, the college's union-busters busted the 'hoe union.'

An empty conference room
Unsplash | Damir Kopezhanov

"I was called to talk to a guidance counselor and she said that someone had reported that I was leading a group that ostracized people," OP wrote. "She said that there was a list of people who, if they came to an event, I'd organize it so every woman left."

There was no such list.

Person holding a smartphone
Unsplash | Paul Hanaoka

OP told the counselor that there was no list, and the union was basically just a group chat (that had grown to about 36 people by this point). There was no coordinated effort to ostracize people, just a coordinated effort to keep people safe.

The counselor didn't buy it.

Exterior shot of a college campus
Unsplash | Michael Marsh

"[The counselor] said it wasn't [just] a friend group, she was aware we'd called it a 'hoe union' and had rules," wrote OP. "I said that it literally is made up of friends ... and there aren't any enforced 'rules.' It's all voluntary."

"I then got frustrated."

Two women sitting at a table
Unsplash | Christina @ wocintechchat.com

"[I] asked why she thought it was appropriate to involve herself in private conversations that happened outside of school and campus, and left," OP concluded.

She then turned the debate over to Reddit. Was she a jerk or wasn't she?

She wasn't a jerk.

Virtually all commenters agreed that OP did nothing wrong.

"I'd also argue that [administrators] really shouldn't be involved in whether or not their students are partying with specific people," wrote one commenter. "You're all adults and can choose whether or not to stay somewhere you don't want to be."

Her story spread to Twitter.

Some in the Twitterverse accurately pointed out that the risk of sexual assault is far more dangerous and immediate than any kind of vague fearmongering about partygoers supposedly being "ostracized."

This is simply an example of women sticking up for each other, and the college administration came down hard on them for it.

The subreddit removed the post.

A crowded party in an indoor space
Unsplash | Jacob Bentzinger

It wasn't because the discourse got toxic (far from it, in fact), it was because the issue was not a moral debate.

"This is a question of safety and not up for moral debate. These are important discussions to have, but framing them as an issue about morality rather than about the basics of safety does a disservice to everyone," wrote a subreddit administrator.

Solidarity is so important.

While it's disappointing and unfortunate that the college had a problem with the 'hoe union,' the idea — a group chat to help college-age women look out for each other — will likely spread.

If you're in need of support, you can visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network at RAINN.org or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.