An American University fraternity’s fundraiser for veterans has been canceled over concerns that the name — “Bad(minton) and Boujee” — might be “cultural appropriation.”
The fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu, told Campus Reform that it had planned a badminton fundraiser for Armor Down, and named it “Bad(minton) and Boujee” — after the popular Migos song “Bad and Boujee” — to make the event sound more appealing to students, and ultimately earn more money to help veterans who are having difficulty reintegrating into society after their service.
Rocco Cimino, the fraternity’s president, told Campus Reform that the group decided on the theme because sports-related fundraisers generally received the most support on campus, and most sports had already been “taken” by other groups. The only thing the group could think of that was left was badminton — which a lot of people think is kind of boring — so Sigma Alpha Mu figured it would try to “generate buzz” by using a fun name.
What these kids must have forgotten, though, is that this is 2017, and “fun” is pretty much not allowed anymore. In response to their plan, Sigma Alpha Mu received an e-mail from Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life Colin Gerker informing the students that their fundraiser could not be approved with such a problematic name.
“I suspect that this event name will be criticized for the use of ‘boujee,’” Gerker wrote in the e-mail, according to Campus Reform. “I know it’s a colloquial term and is popular via Migos, but we have had groups get reamed for appropriating culture before related to situations like this.”
Cimino attempted to protest, explaining that the members of Sigma Alpha Mu did “not see how a single word which loosely translates to ‘high class’ should disqualify [the] entire event.”
“We also do not understand how there is a ‘culture’ associated with boujee and how, even if there is, the event is completely unrelated to the name,” Cimino continued.
Both Cimino and Gerker are right.
The fundraiser was canceled not because students were upset, but because of concerns that some students might become upset.
Cimino is right in the sense that a cultural-appropriation complaint in regards to the name “Bad(minton) and Boujee” would be totally absurd. “Bad and Boujee,” after all, is an oppressively popular song. Any time I go out to a bar, I have to hear it at least 14 times, and any person in the room who is even close to college age freaks out every single time it comes on. According to my calculations, I’d estimate that the song gets played at parties and in dorm rooms at AU approximately 9 million times per day, and anyone who would complain about naming an event after it would be launching the student body down a slippery slope of potential problematics. What would be next, banning the song altogether? SJWs simply leering and buzz-word-salad-op-ed-ing at anyone who played it?
Honestly though, as ridiculous as that scenario may sound, it’s far from inconceivable — and that’s where Gerker is correct. Don’t get me wrong, I completely disagree with Gerker’s decision to play by the rules of the no-fun-police, but he was right in saying that seemingly innocuous things get called out as “cultural appropriation” all the time — hoop earrings, certain styles of eyebrows, and choker necklaces have all been named offenders within the past few months. What does disturb me about Gerker, however, is that he was even able think of this as being a potential problem. I mean, who views life through that lens? Back when I was in college, I would have been too busy thinking about too many other things for there to ever be room for such a thought in my head. Starting with, you know, school.
Now, what makes this cancelation different from other events that have been canceled over complaints of cultural appropriation — like the yoga classes at the University of Ottawa or the fiesta-themed cardiac fundraiser at Dartmouth — is that this event was canceled before there were any complaints at all. It was canceled not because students were upset, but because of concerns that some students might become upset. It was a straw-man cancelation. It represents that campus culture has gone beyond just bowing down to the whims of the offended; it has started living defensively in fear of their outrage.
Although Sigma Alpha Mu ultimately called off the event, it is still accepting donations for Armor Down on a GoFundMe page.
– Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.
Editor’s Note: This article originally identified the American University fraternity as “Sigma Alpha Nu.” The fraternity is Sigma Alpha Mu.