Ben Assefa Correspondent
in Witherspoon Student Center following the news of a racist parody themed costume party hosted by students off-campus.
It was following the release of the Technician’s article, “Student party at The Retreat parodies ‘black culture’,” that most students and faculty heard about the party. The article discussed the blatantly stereotypical and racist theme of a “BET vs CMT” party was attended by students who had past ties to the former Interfraternity Council (IFC), organization, Theta Chi fraternity.
At the meeting were a wide and balanced group of representatives from various organizations, such as the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity, IFC, Multicultural Student Affairs, Student Government members, and individuals who came as simply concerned students.
Attendees shared their reactions and gave general statements about how they felt in regards to the party.
One word descriptions were thrown into the discussion by facilitators to get a general idea of how individual’s thoughts. Shocked, annoyed, embarrassed, and were a few of the words used.
“I’m not surprised at all,” said Soraya Russell, a sophomore studying international relations.
Russell said it frustrates her she’s not surprised. “It happens here and other places. And nothings being done about it.”
Kiara Hicks a senior in sports management said the news of the party was an insult, being that Diversity Week had been days before. “Diversity week was just last week, yet here we are. The main people attending programs are of the minority communities–the ones constantly marginalized. People want to throw a party that generalizes. There’s so much more that happens, that people choose not to represent. They’re just taking the stereotypical position. You see plenty of Blacks around campus but choose to stereotype us in this light, ” Hicks said.
As the evening progressed, the conversation held onto the focal point of the conversation, with the party still being the premise, but eventually the Town Hall Meeting went beyond the on the surface problem, and went into the systemic flaws that we’ve all become victim of. In a very well-organized fashion, facilitators Jasmine Cannon, vice president of The Society of Afrikan Amerikan Culture (SAAC) and Kinesha Harris, president of AYA Ambassadors asked the audience to break up into groups of people whom you do not know and coordinate amongst one another to work on ideas, collectively, to come up with possible resolutions or suggestions to respond accordingly to the CMT vs BET incident and others like it.
Groups had an array of excellent ideas. One of the most commonly thought up idea, amongst all groups, involved an incentive initiative.
It goes without saying that the Pack loves its sports and its loyalty points. A suggestion made from that would be to reward loyalty points for going to certain cultural events or seminars on cultural awareness. Another similar thought was to allow card swipes at the Pan-Afrikan Festival for people to earn loyalty points and to hopefully learn something about their fellow peers. This idea stirred the audience, as their interest became peaked and showed much interest in following up this idea.
Other ideas revolved around more consequence based actions, rather than rewarding based actions. Suggestions for mandatory sessions involving cultural competence followed by a certain level of accountability also caught the attention of myself and other members of the audience. Simply put, if you go to one of these cultural competence sessions and repeat such a violation then consequences should follow up immediately. Similar ideas involved forcing students to take a class that offers curriculum on cultural diversity if the Code of Conduct has been violated by said student.
The third and, perhaps, most effective means of reaching out to the greater community and work on bridging gaps and truly understanding one another was through personal connections. Ideas such as peer education, a seminar led by peers, face to face conversations that have situational simulations.