'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."