Minority groups vexed over Crimson Nights

Students who attend Crimson Nights this Friday will no longer be able to make their own jewel-encrusted grill or sleep on a “Siesta Sac.”

Several activities previously scheduled for the campus bash have been canceled after organizers received complaints that the activities were racially insensitive.

Crimson Nights is a free campus event for students held in the Union once per month during the school year.

The activities in question related to the theme of the upcoming Crimson Nights celebration, “What’s Your Sin?,” based around the seven deadly sins. Activities for the event were organized to correspond with each of the seven sins.

Members of the Black Student Union were offended after they felt the events centered around the sin “envy”–including a “make your own grill” and hair extensions booth-equated black culture to sin.

“They’re taking (things) out of context and making somebody else’s culture a sin,” said Aishatu Yusuf, a member of the BSU.

Some Latina/o students in MEChA were likewise troubled by a scheduled activity called a “Lovesac Siesta” tied to the sin “sloth.” The nap-fest was going to be sponsored by “Siesta Sac,” a company that manufactures beanbags.

After hearing complaints about the event, leaders in the Union Programming Council, the board that hosts Crimson Nights, canceled the offending activities and removed many of the posters advertising activities for the sins “envy” and “sloth.”

“We’re not in the business of offending anybody,” said Eric Hu, UPC director. “We didn’t realize the implications the (grill and hair extensions) had for the African-American community.”

Hu said members of UPC had never considered the activities to be offensive and thought the event showed a “breakdown of communication” between ethnic student groups and UPC.

John Shaw, a graduate student and a member of the BSU, said he thought the dispute illustrated how parts of black culture are viewed as a form of novelty or entertainment.

“This is a school of learning, not ‘Yo MTV raps’,” Shaw said.

In the future, Shaw said, the BSU and other diverse groups hope to be more involved with UPC.

“Together we can work to ensure that the UPC will program for a more diverse student body,” Shaw said.

Tyler Cobb

A Crimson Nights poster advertising activities that represented the deadly sin envy as a part of the theme “7” at this Friday’s Crimson Nights has been taken out down in the Union Building because it was deemed offensive.