St. Thomas cancels "Hump Day" event, starring a camel, after students threaten protest

Categories: Education
A flier for the since-canceled event.
On Wednesday evening, the St. Thomas Residence Hall Association was scheduled to hold an event called "Hump DAAAAAAY!" A flier for it says, "Take pictures with A REAL CAMEL!"

But the event was canceled after a group of students used Facebook to organize an anti-"Hump Day" protest that was scheduled for the same time.

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The reason the students decided to organize the protest is multifaceted, Ryan Burke, one of the protest's organizers, tells us.

"Camels on campus, livestock on campus -- it doesn't seem like the priorities are in line with the mission of our campus," Burke, a justice and peace studies major, says. "That sparked me to be critical of it."

"A group of us got together to point out there were issues with having a camel on a predominately white campus," he continues. "It's a case study here -- [St. Thomas] is 86 percent white, a majority of students are from the upper-class suburbs, and it feels like you're going to school with Michele Bachmann over and over and over again. In a predominantly white campus, having an exotic animal on campus that people can take selfies with, we decided to speak out and it got canceled."

In the end, a Facebook event page for the protest ended up with more RSVPs than the event page for the actual "Hump Day" extravaganza itself. ("We had more than 100 RSVPs, and it's really big deal to get people to do anything here so we had a lot of support behind us, very much much more support than normal," Burke says.) In a Facebook reprinted on Campus Reform that appears to have since been deleted, the RHA cited the event's divisiveness as the reason the plug was pulled.

"RHA's goal in programming is to bring residents together in a fun and safe environment where all people can enjoy themselves," RHA president Lindsay Goodwin said in the post. "It appears however, this program is dividing people and would make for an uncomfortable and possibly unsafe environment for everyone attending or providing the program. As a result, RHA has decided to cancel the event."

(For an in-depth analysis of why some St. Thomas students were troubled by the Hump Day event, read Ashley Allan's essay, "For Us White Folk: Unpacking Our Orientalism.")

As you'd imagine, many students don't agree with the RHA's decision to cancel the event. Morgan Schreurs, a political science major who says she has friends on both sides of the issue, says she's heard from students who "didn't think the protest was a good use of time or energy." But Schreurs says the nuanced objections put forth by Burke and others were quickly reduced to a caricature.

(For more, click to page two.)

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