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The Simpsons on SJWs

Apologies for the temporary absence – the semester does get busy this time of year! Before we return to our regular programming, check out this chunk of a Simpsons episode. It’s hilarious!

Granted, this Simpsons bit is about Yale, but it echoes eerily familiar sentiments here in the Purple Valley…

Funny (relevant) quote:

But we also need to hire more deans to decide which Halloween costumes are appropriate. Eight deans should do it.

Remember the Taco Six? My sides are aching! Then again, in Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom’s words, I wouldn’t want to “impinge on the fun of others“…

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Curse of the Taco Six

What is it about sombreros and NESCAC that generates such controversy? From the Washington Post:

On Saturday, two members of Bowdoin College’s student government will face impeachment proceedings. What heinous transgression did they commit? Theft, plagiarism, sexual assault?

Nope. They attended a party where some guests wore tiny sombreros.

Two weeks ago, some students threw a birthday party for a friend. The email invitation read: “the theme is tequila, so do with that what you may. We’re not saying it’s a fiesta, but we’re also not not saying that :).” The invitation — sent by a student of Colombian descent, which may or may not be relevant here — advertised games, music, cups and “other things that are conducive to a fun night.”

Those “other things” included the miniature sombreros, several inches in diameter. And when photos of attendees wearing those mini-sombreros showed up on social media, students and administrators went ballistic.

College administrators sent multiple schoolwide emails notifying the students about an “investigation” into a possible “act of ethnic stereotyping.”

1) It would be fun to read those e-mails. Could any Bowdoin readers copy and paste in the comments?

2) This is at least the third (!) sombrero-related controversy to hit NESCAC. The first was our own Taco Six. There was a similar “scandal” at Middlebury, although I am hazy on the details.

3) Never too late to create the Eph Style Guide!

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Armed Resistence

From Yik Yak:

Q: So did that armed resistance girl get suspended?

A: Of course not.

Q: What happened

A: Someone said something about how they “can’t wait for armed resistance” in reaction to the taco 6.

Comments:

0) Some background. Yik Yak is an app for anonymous discussion in a local setting. I don’t really recommend it. As you might expect, anonymous == swamp. But, with the demise of WSO Discussions, it is the best tool for keeping up with campus gossip, like this. Conveniently, you can monitor the discussion at Williams even if you don’t live in Williamstown.

1) Does anyone have a screenshot of this? Future historians will thank you! I don’t care about identifying the people involved, I just want the full context of the quote.

2) It is good that this student was not suspended. Free speech does not end at the top of Spring Street. Unless you are saying something that is illegal in Massachusetts — constantly harassing a specific person or making a credible physical threat — you are free to say all the stupid stuff you like. Kudos to Dean Bolton and/or Williams for not making a big deal about this. (I assume that there was no all-campus e-mail.)

3) It is bad that the College engages in viewpoint discrimination. If a student talking about “armed resistance” is not worthy of an all-campus e-mail than neither are The Taco Six.

4) It is bad that a student — the one replying “Of course not” above — thinks (correctly) that the College treats similar actions differently depending on the political views of the Ephs behind those actions.

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We are Other

Beautifully written post explaining the problems with Mexican-themed costumes.

“They didn’t mean to be offensive.”

A picture of six white Williams students donning taco costumes with mustaches and sombreros were shared last night to the rest of the campus. These pictures were on Instagram for everyone to see, and a few students have shared those pictures with the rest of the student body.

“They didn’t mean to be offensive.”

What is offensive about a taco costume? Nothing, a taco costume is not offensive. But, a taco costume with a fake mustache and a sombrero is. But why is it offensive if they are all Mexican things? Taking three different reductive stereotypes about Mexicans and Mexican culture and putting into one costume simplifies, reduces, and exotizes Mexicans. You perpetuate the one caricature of Mexicans already deeply ingrained in the imagination of the U.S. You become complicit in anti-Mexicanness that I, my family, my neighbors back home, other students, staff, and faculty at Williams, and thousands of others across the U.S. experience daily.

“They didn’t mean to be offensive.”

The six women are posing slightly hunched over, raising their fists, with the caption: “First there was the Jackson Five and then there was the Taco Six. #Ole.” The Jackson Five? Olé? Why do these Williams students feel the need to dress up as people of color for Halloween? Why are they only willing to engage with other cultures on a holiday? If they love our cultures so much, why do I not see them at the events we spend months planning to teach and to share different aspects of our identities and heritage? Why are we only the butt of their Halloween joke?

“They didn’t mean to be offensive.”

The caricature of Mexicans shows how abstract we are to them. We may share the same dining halls, be in the same classes, have mutual friends, but in the end, it does not register to them that their actions may have different implications for those of us who do not and cannot fit into the dominant culture at Williams and in the U.S. Some of us are not granted the option to not be offended due the history of exploitation, the ongoing attacks of Mexicans in the U.S., and our every day lived experiences.

“They didn’t mean to be offensive.”

I reiterate, their reduction and caricature of Mexicans and Mexican culture aligns with what is already etched in the imagination of the U.S. In the imagination of the U.S., we are sombrero-wearing, taco-eating, dirty mustached, wetback beaners who are here to take up all the jobs and mow your lawns, wash your dishes, be your child’s nanny, pick your fruit and vegetables; we are your employees, we are illegals, we are dirty, we are lazy, we are criminals, we do not belong here. We are Other.

Read the whole thing. I have saved a copy below the break, along with many interesting comments in the thread which followed.

Needless to say, I disagree with much of the substance of this argument, but there is no denying its eloquence and intelligence.
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The Taco 6

Every campus controversy needs a name. What shall we call our latest? Given the photo which started the contre-temps, I suggest “The Taco 6.”

taco6

Do readers have other suggestions?

By the way, here are the images that Google pulls up for “girls mexican costumes”. I am sure that all PC Williams students would appreciate it Dean Bolton could go through them all and let them know which ones are acceptable at a Williams party and which ones are not. How about these two from Halloween Costumes?

sexy-mexican-shooter-costume

kids-poncho-costume

Unless Dean Bolton truly wants to get into the business of Halloween costume selection for 2,000 undergraduates, she would be wise to let this matter drop.

Is she wise?

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Racial Stereotype

Another absurd e-mail from Dean Bolton:

From: Sarah Bolton
Date: Monday, December 8, 2014
Subject: Concern From the Weekend, and Support
To: WILLIAMS-STUDENTS@williams.edu

Dear Williams Students,

I write to inform you about a concern that has arisen over the weekend. As many of you are already aware, on Saturday night several students reported to me a photograph showing six Williams students who appeared to have dressed in costumes imitating a racial stereotype, including [What Do You Think Goes Here?].

As is the case when any concern is brought to the attention of my office, we are looking into this matter in order to understand fully what took place and how it may relate to the college’s code of student conduct.

This is a very difficult time for many students, and we are setting up a variety of opportunities for gathering or supportive conversation this week. In addition to their regular daytime operations, the Davis Center will be staffed for the next three nights from 7-9 pm and the Chaplain’s office will be open in the evenings as well, from 8-10 pm. There is a workshop for students wondering how to be allies from 7-9 pm at Hardy House. There is a Stress-busters tonight at Paresky. And, the deans are available to work with students who are struggling to move forward their academic work in this difficult context. Please don’t hesitate to come by or contact any of us.

Sincerely,
Dean Bolton

Obviously, I have left out the key phrase. Here are some options:

1) gang colors and grillz.

2) false mustaches and sombreros.

3) Irish country hats and shillelaghs.

4) horned helmets and fake braids.

5) Indian headdresses and “war paint.”

The cynics among you will instantly dismiss 3) and 4). No Dean at Williams would complain about dressing up like this or this. Those are white caricatures! Making fun of white people is OK!

Answer is 2! Can you believe it? I would have thought this was a spoof. (And maybe a student is spoofing me! Corrections welcome.)

My thoughts on this are the same as always.

First, we need an Eph Style Guide. That was a good idea ten years ago. It is a good idea now.

Second, does Dean Bolton enjoy these mini-controversies? (Insider comments welcome.) If I were Dean, I would find them boring and annoying. If she does not enjoy them, she could decrease the number of complaints that come to her office by not sending out so many all-campus e-mails. The bigger the deal she makes about these stupidities, the more of them will come to her door.

Third, if I were a trouble-making non-liberal student. I would come to Dean Bolton with a similar complaint (about, say, a student wearing a Che Guevara or hammer-and-sickle t-shirt) and demand that she send out a similar all-campus e-mail about that.

Does anyone have a copy of the photo? Send it in. Future historians will thank you!

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