Celebrating Cinco de Mayo in October might be stupid, but racist?
Cornell University found out that hard way that it’s both last weekend, when a furor erupted over a plan for a Cinco de Mayo event surrounding the Ivy League school’s football game against Colgate.
The poster advertised a day of tacos, and sombreros along prizes for students dressed in the best costume to promote “Ithaca: Cinco de Octubre,” a ham-handed, truly stupid way of drumming up school spirit.
But it was the costume contest that really set off campus activist Carmen Martinez.
“I was disappointed that this theme was stereotyping the Mexican culture of which I identify,” Martinez told the Cornell Daily Sun.
“I was especially troubled by the ‘photobooth’ activity, especially after one of my colleagues pointed out that the winner [is the person] with the ‘best costume,’ implying the best Mexican costume was going to win a prize. What better way to invite stereotyping of our culture?”
(Here’s a better question: What better way of showcasing the hyper-sensitivity of certain ethnic activists than by kicking up a fuss over an event that hasn’t even happened yet?)
Once the word got out, several horrified student groups and Latino community members contacted University officials saying the marketing campaign was offensive, culturally insensitive and inappropriate.
And naturally, they won the day. (Cornell’s football team didn’t, by the way. Colgate kicked their teeth in.)
A chastened Cornell Athletics Department canceled the promotion and apologized for the incident, but just as naturally, it wasn’t enough. Other campus activists are demanding sensitivity classes for the university’s official student fan club.
“This speaks to a broader issue of how hierarchy and bureaucracy allow for athletic departments at elite universities to behave as they wish without much accountability,” Cornell senior Francisco Rodriguez told the Daily Sun.
That’s fine for the Hispanic groups. But it’s Cornell’s German-heritage students that really should have a beef.
As the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto pointed out Monday, it’s really Oktoberfest season.
CORRECTION: This article originally identified Francisco Rodriguez as a junior.
HT: The Daily Caller