And now, American BBQ is offensive!

The American Flag
The American Flag

It is natural for people to have an emotional attachment to the country they consider their homeland. People display their flag, sing their national anthem and support their countrymen because of that attachment.

However, Ramapo College students who wanted to have an “American BBQ” were forced to change the theme of their party because, according to the administration, it was too “offensive”.

Ariana Rivera, the Assistant Residence Director of Bischoff Hall, invited the groups College Republicans and the College Democrats to co-sponsor the BBQ. Those groups were offered the chance to set tables for their respective organizations and promote student voting.

But Campus Reform obtained emails revealing that two days before the party, Rivera contacted Tyler Gilson, College Republicans’ President, to let him know that:

[The] Bischoff Hall would no longer be co-sponsoring … because the American theme was “considered offensive.”

She added that the event would not be canceled but would be changed to a regular BBQ.

When Gilson replied to Rivera’s email asking why “American” is considered an offensive theme and who complained about it, Rivera answered:

“To be honest, I’m not sure. I think it was administrative … I was told that our advertising was too ‘military and recruitment-oriented,’ because we had the Uncle Sam saying ‘I want you…’ I think? However, we saw other posters with that same idea, so I really don’t know.”

The Vice-President of College Republicans Matthew Searfoss asked the Residence Assistant for more information about the administration’s action.

“The RA said that they had been using the famous ‘I want you’ image of Uncle Sam in several posters around campus to get the word out about the event, and the administration thought that these posters were too militaristic and not inclusive of the entire student population.”

Monica Lynn, a member of the College Republicans, expressed in The Odyssey how surprised and upset the members felt, after being informed of the cancellation of the first meeting of the year.

“This issue was swept under the rug like nothing happened, and to some, it may seem quite trivial, but to me, this spells out a larger message: that a lot of colleges and universities in today’s society are willing to shut down students’ opinions in fear of offending someone,” Lynn writes.

Of course, Gilson and Searfoss do want to let this issue go, especially since Ramapo is a public university supported by state funding.

“I find the actions of the administration to be disheartening regarding this matter as they are not being open and understanding of the views of its entire student population and the taxpayers whose money goes to keep the institution up and running,” Searfoss explained.

However, Ramapo Public Relations Specialist Angela Daidone told Campus Reform that the change of the theme was a “miscommunication” and it never was threatened to be canceled.

“The BBQ did go on as planned, there were American flags and TurboVote was there, and over 300 students attended…The theme was changed, but there were American flags hanging.”

How is “America” considered an offensive and exclusive theme at an American university? Every person living in the US should be proud of this country, so why can’t they express it in a meeting?

It is a shame that students, such members of political groups, do not have freedom of speech at universities. Instead, they must be constantly on guard for “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings”.

Read more at Campus Reform

Photo Credit to Nicolas Raymond

Maria Robles is a recent graduate from New Jersey City University. She believes that everyone should be informed about current issues affecting our society.