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'Blackface Incident' Brings Out Almost 100 Ursinus Students to Meeting

After a Halloween costume sparked a firestorm, students discussed administrative involvement, policy changes and potential curriculum-related solutions to what some see as race insensitivity on campus.

 

Students of Ursinus College gathered at the Ursinus Student Government Associaition (USGA) to discuss an incident in which a student dressed up in blackface for Halloween.

"This week, an Ursinus student attended a USGA sponsored event in a costume which offended many members of our community," said the USGA in an e-mail recapping the meeting.

According to students and Twitter feeds, a white male student went to a costume party dressed as Olympic Gymnast Gabby Douglass in blackface.

The USGA meeting brought out just under 90 students. Ursinus Assistant Dean Todd McKinney and  Multicultural Services Director Paulette Patton were also in attendance.

According to the minutes of the meeting, it was decided that the incident does not violate school discrimination policy, as it is considered freedom of expression if no one is harmed or directly targeted.

A student said that this is a serious issue, because it affects the entire community by making people of color feel uncomfortable; education on racial issues are necessary.

Students questioned the involvement of the school; why there has been no discussion of a policy change, why nothing has been done to stop this kind of behavior, why there is a breakdown of communication in that the incident appears to have been "swept under the rug".

There was wide-spread support for educating students on what is important in the campus, as well as including "The New Jim Crow" in CIE, the Common Intellectual Experience curriculum.

One student noted that this is the latest in a series of racial incidents in the past several years, including an incident last year when a student carved a racial slur into a professor's podium. The USGA believes that this is an opportunity to strengthen the unity of the student body.

"Rather than creating more tension, we wish to use this as an opportunity to improve our community and educational experience," the USGA said.

"Ultimately, we as students are the ones responsible for building a culture with which we can live.  While we strongly regret that students have been hurt and offended, we are made hopeful by the strength and respectfulness of the response we saw tonight."

Ann Hankins November 14, 2012 at 02:33 AM
When I say " your I love jesus shirt" I mean it in the collective sense, not " yours specifically. We're discussing society as a whole, not on an individual basis........
K.B. Matticus November 14, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Freedom of speech is not "wholly celebrated," and your perspective in this situation is a perfect example. You believe that if "members of the community were offended," or that if your own sensibilities are offended, then speech should be limited.
Bob Jones November 20, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Even if you are fully aware of the history of "blackface," this whole situation is absolutely rediculous. Why is someone being victimized for dressing in a costume for Halloween? His intentions were not to show hate towards a certain race. Yeah, there is history behind "blackface," Hell, there is a lot of history about a whole bunch of shit. Irish people were slaves in history and people go around during St. Patrick's Day wearing shirts referring to the Irish as drunks who don't know anything else other than getting drunk. There were a lot of people dressed up in costumes on Halloween that anyone could have mistaken as "offensive." Quite frankly, I am offended that a movie like "White Chicks" can be seen as "acceptable," but someone dresses as a girl from the women's olympic gymnastics team and they are called an ignorant asshole. People need to realize that history is history for a reason and move on. Nobody said anything to the kid for dressing like a woman. Nobody said anything to the people dressed as Mexicans or as Southern hillbillies. But a white kid dresses up in a costume and paints his face black to fit the part, and he gets humiliated for it. Doesn't the fact that he liked Gabby Douglas enough to dress like her for Halloween say anything? This whole situation with "blackface" is completely rediculous and the ignorance of people is astounding. Stop trying to bring racism into every situation because if this line is going to be drawn, many more must be drawn.
Bob Jones November 20, 2012 at 06:16 AM
Let's take a campus-wide poll of how many students were made to feel uncomfortable from this situation.
Bob Jones November 20, 2012 at 06:35 AM
It's called "history" for a reason. It's meant to be in the past. It seems you are trying to move backwards while the rest of us are trying to move forward.

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