Administrators at Clemson University are asking students to stop referencing Harambe, claiming jokes about the deceased gorilla promote rape culture and racism.
A Clemson administrator sent an email to freshman residential advisors instructing them to tell their students to remove any physical references in the residential hall to Harambe, the gorilla that was killed at the Cincinnati Zoo in May.
Graduate Community Director Brooks Artis took the lead on the Harambe-ban, firmly stating that public references to the gorilla were harmful to campus and residential culture. “We are no longer allowing any reference to Harambe (or any other spelling) to be displayed on doors, halls, billboards, or windows,” the email reads. “Harambe should not be displayed in a public place or a place that is viewed by the public.”
While Artis concedes that he can’t ask students not to pay homage to Harambe in the privacy of their own rooms, the strict ban is the result of an incident that is only vaguely referenced in the email. Artis briefly mentions a complaint in which a student reported that they were offended by the presence of a Harambe meme.
“If residents are asking why they have to take them down you can share that there was a report from an individual about a meme being offensive and bias [sic] in nature and as a result all Harambe references are no longer allowed within our community,” the email adds.
Despite Artis’ culturally authoritarian attitude, he insists that the university is not banning the word but instead encouraging students to think more intimately about the ways in which words and jokes affect others. “While we are not banning the word, I want to encourage you to think about what you are saying and how someone who may be a different gender, race, culture, or sexuality than you may take the comment,” Artis writes.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org