Sometimes Mexican food served by institutions is really bad. And it can happen anywhere, even in a place like Santa Cruz, California.
But it wasn’t the food quality that set Stevenson College to apologizing a few days ago. It was the occasion for serving Mexican food.
You will be horrified to learn that Stevenson served a Mexican food buffet for its most recent “College Night.” The theme of the College Night, you see, was “Intergalactic.”
I am very sorry to report that “the decor included robots and space ships with aliens,” according to Dr. Carolyn Golz, the College Administrative Officer. Obviously, anyone would immediately assume that serving Mexican food in such a context is a way of comparing Mexicans to space aliens, and disparaging them thereby.
Exhibit A from Dr. Golz is this photo of the hostile environment.
She lost no time sending a letter of apology to the students, in which she vowed to put college staff through “cultural competence” training.
We would never want to make a connection between individuals of Latino heritage or undocumented students and “aliens” and I am so sorry that our College Night appeared to do exactly that.
This incident demonstrated a cultural insensitivity on the part of the program planners and, though it was an unintentional mistake, I recognize that this incident caused harm within our community and negatively impacted students. As a result of this incident, I will require cultural competence training for Programs staff, in addition to implementing mechanisms for future program planning that will ensure college programs are culturally sensitive and inclusive.
Dr. Golz also encouraged anyone who might be tottering on the brink after this heinous incident to contact her:
If you are interested in talking with me further about this incident or other climate issues at Stevenson, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. There are also a variety of campus resources available for support including:
Student Services Diversity and Inclusion Office… Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion… Counseling and Psychological Services…
Reporting hate/ bias incidents: http://reporthate.ucsc.edu
I care about the individuals in our community and I want everyone to feel respected, included, and affirmed.
I am somewhat encouraged to see that the students responding in the Reddit forum where Golz’s letter is posted seem to mostly think the whole thing is a crock. (Well, they’re much more profane than that.)
That said, I’m not sure Stevenson ever had much of a chance. Stevenson College (named for Adlai Stevenson) is a part of UC-Santa Cruz, and describes in these words what it finds exciting:
Perhaps most exciting are those times, frequent at Stevenson, when the line between the social and the academic dissolves. When Jesse Jackson or Amiri Baraka speaks in the Stevenson Event Center, when Angus Wilson’s Pulitzer-prize winning “Fences” is performed as a part of a Stevenson College Night, when students and faculty meet to discuss classes or life in the Stevenson Coffee House, when students in residence halls or on the Stevenson knoll begin debating issues they discussed in Core sections, then the distinction between the social and the academic is transcended, and we truly achieve our ideal of a unified, vibrant intellectual community.
Very frankly, it looks to me like the line between the social and the academic dissolved on “Intergalactic” College Night, and it scared someone to death.