Culture

Seven Other Things That Have Been Declared ‘Unsafe’ at Colleges

It’s not just American Sniper.

The University of Michigan made headlines this week for initially canceling a screening of the blockbuster film American Sniper because some Muslim students said that it being shown would make them feel “unsafe.” The college has since reversed this decision, but it’s not the only time something like this has happened. Here are seven other things that a school or its students have declared hazards to campus safety: 

1. Bill Maher

When the University of Berkeley announced that Bill Maher would be its graduation speaker last October, more than 6,000 students signed a petition demanding that he be banned because he “perpetuates a dangerous learning environment” and “they cannot stand for any action that makes our students feel unsafe.”

2. Face paint of any color at any event ever

Last October, Arizona State University’s athletics department banned facepaint — “whether the theme is black, maroon, gold or white” — because ASU is an “inclusive and forward-thinking university” and they must make sure that “everyone feels safe and accepted.” They did not explain whether or not any students had actually reported feeling threatened by the paint, and if so, how those students were handling their lives currently. 

3. A petting-zoo camel (due to concerns over racial tensions)

Students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota planned to bring a camel (one which had been trained for these kinds of events) to campus last spring as part of a fun “Hump Day” event celebrating the end of the year — only to be told that the idea was not fun, but actually so horribly racist against Middle Eastern students that it would be “possibly unsafe” for anyone to attend. It was canceled. 

 

4. The word “bullet” (not to be confused with actual bullets, which are a perfect example of something that can actually be dangerous) 

Last fall, the student newspaper staff at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia decided to change the publication’s name from The Bullet to The Blue and Gray Press on the grounds that the word “bullet” “propagated violence.”

5. Calling freshmen students “freshmen” 

Last November, the administration at Elon University in North Carolina instructed student orientation leaders not to call the freshmen “freshmen” — because the word makes women sound “vulnerable” and therefore suggests that they “might be targets” for sexual violence, according to the school’s Inclusive Community Wellbeing Director. (Yes . . . “Inclusive Community Wellbeing Director.”)#related#

6. Cinco de Mayo–themed parties 

On May 19, 2013, Northwestern University’s Hispanic/Latino Alliance wrote a letter explaining why they were totally not ridiculous for having told students that they shouldn’t drink tequila or eat tacos at parties earlier that month: Sometimes people will be “drinking tequila shots while saying things like ‘cinco de drinko,’” and that contributes to a “campus climate” where Mexican students “feel unwelcome if not often unsafe.” 

7. Posters 

Students at Boston College did something crazy last month: They put up posters advocating for free speech without officially registering as a campus group before doing so. School administrators called the cops, and Dean of Students Thomas Mogan explained that the posters were “a nuisance and in some cases a safety hazard.” What he thinks “safety hazard” means remains unclear. Maybe someone had to go into a Cinco de Mayo party to grab one. 

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