We have been discussing the crackdown on speech deemed offensive or insulting to anyone or any group on U.S. campuses. The latest example can be found at Bowdoin, one of the country’s oldest and leading colleges. Two student government members are facing calls for punishment and impeachment for attending a party where some people wore tiny sombreros.
In the latest case, 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 was reportedly send by a student of Colombian descent who seemed concerned to even use the word “fiesta”. Some students wore miniature sombreros and pictures were posted to social media. That quickly prompted the launching of a formal investigation into an “act of ethnic stereotyping.”
Notably, sombreros were worn at alumni events at the college as the Washington Post reported — and posted this picture.
In an interview, Michelle Kruk, a senior and vice president of student government, insisted that “It’s not about tequila or sombreros . . . It’s about casual racial and ethnic stereotyping and cultural insensitivity at a school that has seen far too many examples of both.” Sounds like it is the tequila and sombreros. The policing of stereotypes or insensitivity in the speech or associations of students has become a growing focus on colleges and universities. This movement has obvious and negative implications for free speech on campuses as well as associational rights. The point seems to be that college students who want to throw a themed party should be disciplined because they are too “casual” in their treatment of a given culture or group. The standard is so fluid as to be unintelligible to any but those objecting at any given moment.
What do you think?