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Drunken Unity: The Price of Trivializing Marginalization

November 30, 2015

by Brian Landeros

Drunken Unity: The Price of Trivializing Marginalization

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Forum or its other staff. I had just arrived back at Claremont from a much-needed visit home when I decided to scroll through my Facebook news feed on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Break. After sifting through the countless vines and 2016 election ads, I came across an event promotion that instantly reminded me of the excitement of last year’s big EDM Party, Frost.

ASCMC Presents: Unity (Kygo/Galantis + Lost Kings)

When I noticed that the advertisement included a link to a Tilt page, I was ready to throw my money at this party in hopes that it would emulate my freshman experience at Frost. Then, I read the event description:

All of us are working extremely hard to make the Claremont Colleges as inclusive and welcoming a place as possible, for everyone. We want to do something big that will energize the campus and bring us all together. We want to host an event that will unify our Claremont Colleges so that we can get back to loving and celebrating the community we are all a part of… Our goal for this event is to unify our campus and bring everybody together. The most effective way we can do that is to bring big name artists that appeal to the biggest possible range of students on our campus.

I was shocked. I could not believe that my college’s own student government would be so insensitive as to capitalize on the efforts made by students of marginalized identities to instill change in order to garner support to fundraise a party. Sure enough, I later learned that the event hasn’t even been proposed to ASCMC formally, let alone supported. Instead, the promotion is spearheaded by a handful of CMC students who have no affiliation with ASCMC’s Executive Board. One of the individuals involved in the event’s promotion even publicly called a group of students “disgusting” for sharing a photo of the Halloween costume that many attribute to be the tipping point behind recent outbursts at CMC.

Past actions aside, I tried to give these students the benefit of the doubt, but I gave up shortly after re-reading the event’s description on Tilt. Do they honestly believe that their marginalized peers who have been suffering throughout this past month would feel better with a little alcohol and Kygo? Many students who support the movement actually condemn the drinking culture as a significant reason behind their discomfort at CMC.

As for the party being “the most effective way” to “bring everybody together,” I can think of at least five better things that you can do with $50,000 (the original target for the Tilt). How about helping President Chodosh with the financial aid target for the Student Imperative? Maybe put money forward to help fund the permanent resource center dedicated to inclusion that the administration has agreed to develop? Or, instead of spending money, perhaps the best thing you could do is to simply take steps to become a better allyto your peers. This includes listening to the experiences of fellow students who have been marginalized and supporting the calls to action they have made. There are better ways to support unity, even if it simply means involving yourself in the discussion. Overall, it’s about showing that you have the capacity to care about something more than the party culture at CMC.

The organizers of this event may say that they were acting out of good faith in a true effort to bring people together and help our community heal. As has been stated many times over the past few weeks, however, benevolent intentions matter little if one’s actions are harmful. This event trivializes students’ pain by using it as a tool to fundraise for a party. To some of us, this party means that students are dismissing the feelings of isolation and discomfort that many of their peers have experienced. To say that “we can get back to loving and celebrating the community we are all a part of” presumes that we should go back to the state our campus was in three weeks ago. It silences the students across the 7Cs that are now talking about issues of racism, classism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, etc. Explicitly stating that throwing a massive party is the best way to bring CMC together is incredibly shallow; students should expect and desire more than that. We should come together in support of meaningful action to support all students in our community, rather than in support of a drunken concert.

I, as a student who has dedicated countless hours toward promoting change on our campus, will not be attending this party. There are already plenty of others who see this event as nothing more than a sad excuse for a few buddies with dreams of throwing a rager to reap the benefits of doing absolutely nothing to “help” until now. If you really need to resort to drinking to get your mind off of these controversial events, try attending one of the 3-4 parties that we are notified about in an email every single Tuesday. Don’t profit at the expense of your peers—it is extremely disrespectful and not what our community needs.

Update: As of Monday, November 23, the event description and name have been changed due to complaints from students that parallel the concerns raised in this article. To view the original event description, click here. It is also worth noting that the Tilt had already raised close to $1,000 before any changes were made. It should be emphasized that the intentions outlined in the original description have fueled the promotion behind this party, and that the students involved have already benefitted from the original marketing strategy regardless of any changes that they continue to make.

This article was written with contributions from Sarah Gissinger and Casey Garcelon.

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