Clemson University has officially apologized for holding a “Maximum Mexican” night.
One student took offense at cafeteria workers who wore sombreros, tweeting, “Our culture isn’t a costume and we will not be mocked!” Another student, calling herself “Amanda A.,” tweeted, “Really @ClemsonUniv?! @ClemsonPrez I thought your focus was #Diversity #CUFiestaFiasco #CUlturallyInsensitive.”
But another student tweeted back, “I’m offended that you’re offended. #CUfiestafiasco.” Campus Reform interviewed Clemson senior Austin Pendergist, who said the fuss was “ridiculous,” adding, “This is something that Clemson Dining has done for years without any sort of backlash. People love the cultural nights in the dining halls. What’s next? Are they going to take away all potato based food as to not offend students from Irish decent? Remove the stir fry station so Asian-American students don’t feel as if they are being misrepresented? When does it end?”
Dr. Doug Hallenbeck, Clemson University’s Senior Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, issued an apology, saying, “Unfortunately, the event displayed a flattened cultural view of Mexican culture … It is the mission of University Housing & Dining to create supportive and challenging environments that enrich and nourish lives. We failed to live out our mission yesterday, and we sincerely apologize.”
To make certain no further offense would be taken, the university also apologized on Clemson Dining Services’ Facebook and Twitter pages. After the apologies were issued, “Amanda A.” tweeted, “Thank you to all of the amazing people who stood up to bigotry :) Can’t wait for Clemson to see how great real Hispanic culture is”
Campus Reform interviewed Clemson’s Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, who said:
We appreciate and support the goal of Dining to celebrate cuisines of different cultures but we felt that we needed to acknowledge unintended offense. It would have been possible to have the celebration, including décor, as long as we avoid inaccurate and negative stereotypes. That will be our focus going forward. Clemson University issued an apology to students on Thursday after what appears to be a small group of students were offended by an annual Mexican cuisine event put on by university dining services.
Clemson Dining Services has held other themed parties, including “Low Country BBQ Bash,” sold as a party where students could “Pick up a plate of mighty fine fixins,” and St. Patrick’s Day-themed events, with the attendant “cornbeef, fried fish, and Irish grilled cheese.”
Pendergist bluntly told Campus Reform, “For as long as I’ve been here, and probably for much longer, Clemson dining has put on certain culinary theme nights, where they decorate the dining halls and serve whatever kind of food. They have Italian night, Mexican night, seafood night, midnight breakfast, all kinds of events.” He continued that he “can’t imagine how they’re going to react when they discover that Taco Bell is a thing.”