One might assume that the representative body of the 38,ooo students at the UA should at least have a passing interest in”diversity and inclusion.”
Yet the members of Freshman Class Council — that shadowy machine that churns out representatives, homecoming floats, and apparently questionably-themed parties, is having a (sic) “Pilgrim and Indian Thanksgiving Dinner!!” in the Union, hosted by two sitting Senators and tentatively attended by two more sitting Senators and the ASUA President. For the groups that ASUA favors, such as the Freshman Class Council, it seems there is a different standard (emphasis added):
If you are currently in Freshman Class Council (class of 2010-2011), dress as a PILGRIM.
If you’re a cubbie (since we are cubbies for life) from 2007-2009, dress as an INDIAN.
Please remember, this is a 100% traditional, authentic reenactment. The pilgrims and indians did not wear hoodies and jeans in 1492…so break out those buckle hats and feathers! We can’t wait to see your costume!!
Yet in other instances, ASUA has been quite concerned with continuing “ignorant and offensive stereotypes.” When the Daily Wildcat printed a comic many called racist, the then-ASUA Senate devoted an entire meeting to discussing the issue:
“It is very important that basically, the students voices are heard and there is a difference between hate speech and freedom of speech,” said Sen. Jason Mighdoll. “Those two are clearly identifiable.”
“What it comes down to at the end of the day is that our university thrives on the ability for students to live, learn and grow in an open and a welcoming environment,” [President Tommy] Bruce said.
An event not so dissimilar from this weekend’s planned pilgrim-and-Indian gathering occurred in February 2007 when news of a ‘black’ theme party broke a few years ago on campus:
As the UA campus enters Black History Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the history and progress of black people in America, a recent “black” party has given the UA community not a reason to celebrate but rather a reason for concern.
While many UA students condemned the party, the UA student who threw the party, agricultural education sophomore Kyle Kuechel, said the party was not intended to be offensive.
“In order to come, you had to dress as your favorite black person,” Kuechel said. “Two people were dressed as lawyers, and two from ‘Family Matters.’”
An image posted on the social networking Web site Facebook shows partygoers dressed in do-rags and fur coats with black-painted faces.
November is, appropriately, Native American Heritage Month.
Given the nature of such issues, we should emphasize, in bold point, that we do not think this event, or anyone in FCC, is racist. We’ve got no problem with a ‘black party’, a white trash trailer bash, or a ‘guess-the-Slav’ gala, so long as the booze flows freely. One-upmanship in political correctness is a destructive cultural trend worthy of condemnation and open opposition.
What is revolting here is the hypocrisy. This organization, so concerned about explicating a difference between “free speech” and “hate speech” that does not, and never has, existed in this country, can toss such concerns to the (colors of the) wind when it comes to their own events. Just over two years ago, ASUA sought to force Wildcat staff to attend “cultural sensitivity” training for publishing a cartoon depiction of an actual event.
We eagerly await for President Shelton to express his “disappointment” with a division of Student Affairs hosting a party where students were “using negative stereotypes” and “perpetuating oppression through offensive depictions of non-dominant cultures” — aw, hell, who are we kidding? We’re just waiting for the ShelTRON photos on Facebook, sans shirt and doing his best version of “Kaw-LIga.”
UPDATE: The above link to the Facebook event page now leads to an error message, leading us to assume the event organizers have either made the settings of the event private or have deleted the event. But the screenshot of the event page, which certainly did exist, is shown above, archived for posterity. This change inspires the question: If there was nothing wrong with this event, why change it? If it’s not offensive, why did the event organizers feel the need to cover it up?
NB: As a bonus note, the event also includes a list of FCC members in the comments. Since this is probably the closest thing we’ll get to disclosure from ASUA of its ordained ruling class, the names follow below:
Zach C. Hines
Anna Swenson blogs for the Desert Lamp, and is a student at the University of Arizona. She is a contributor to the Student Free Press Association.