School officials at Loyola University Maryland pressured student government leaders to drop the “America” theme for their senior class party as “very alienating, divisive and harmful” and against the university’s “core values.” The party was to be one of four celebrations for graduating seniors and the theme was selected by the students themselves but then declared as inappropriate and offensive by university officials.
The student held their ground and held their America party. University officials warned that they would intervened if students were offended. University Executive Vice President Susan Donovan sent an email to two SGA members claiming she “talked with a number of students and heard from faculty members” about the party. She warned “None of it is positive and it sounds very alienating, divisive and harmful.” She added “I encourage you to reconsider this plan in light of the legitimate concerns raised by so many We have made progress in providing a welcoming climate on campus and do we want to reverse that progress with a theme that divides us?”
Dean of Students Sheilah Horton also objected and suggested that those who wanted an America them were insensitive and had not considered who such a party “provides an opportunity for students to dress or behave in a way that offends or oppresses others.” Horton reportedly said that any offense would be dealt with by the Administration and that the party risked making students and faculty “unsafe.” She even said that the party could drive down applications at the university.
I fail to understand why a theme celebrating America (which is a melting pot of cultures) is insensitive or offensive (though, as we discussed, the use “melting pot” itself has been declared a microaggression). We have been discussing how it often seems that universities are allowing the most sensitive students to dictate speech and symbols that are used on campuses — instead of instilling a sense of acceptance for a pluralistic community of different values.
Nevertheless, the student leaders felt compelled to apologize for a “Party in the USA” theme:
“As an organization, we want to extend our deepest apologies to those that were hurt by this theme and the negative impact it had on them. Although it was not our intention to create such a divisive climate, we understand that the impact of this decision is much greater than our initial intention.”
What do you think?