A University-wide email sent by the Student Association (SA) announced the cancellation of a Hinman College fundraising event where the executive board and resident assistants of Roosevelt Hall were going to be “tarred and feathered.”
The event was supposed to take place on Oct. 16 and was set to include syrup, feathers, glitter and eggs. According to a Listserv email sent by the Roosevelt Hall E-Board, “there will also be opportunities to make them do other things like chicken race, Hula-Hoop, play [Duck, duck, goose] and more!”
But the event saw backlash from students who criticized the e-board for making light of tarring and feathering, a form of public torture and humiliation that has been used by hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, throughout American history, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Following the event’s cancellation, the SA wrote they are working with the Hinman College community to rectify the situation, although they noted the event’s name did not appear to be intentionally spiteful.
“Although the naming of the event did not seem to be intentionally malicious, it is still completely unacceptable and inappropriate,” the SA wrote.
The University’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) acknowledged the poor choice of words for the event’s title. NAACP treasurer Deborah Adeyemi, a senior majoring in accounting, wrote in an email that the NAACP aims to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination specific to BU.
“We do not condone or excuse any language or behavior that has the potential to offend, discriminate against or disregard students of color on this campus,” Adeyemi wrote. “Whether the words used to describe the event were intentionally used to offend or not, the NAACP firmly stands with all students of color and marginalized groups.”
On Thursday, the Roosevelt Hall E-Board issued an apology in an email sent to the entire Hinman College Listserv.
“Tarring and feathering is a serious and unjust form of torture and public humiliation,” the email read. “It’s wrong to say that we did not intend to make light of this, because we did talk about it lightheartedly, and that is insensitive and wrong.”
The SA is encouraging students in need of support following the incident to reach out to Vice President for Multicultural Affairs Khaleel James. Adeyemi wrote that the NAACP is also dedicated to providing support and fighting to correct injustices within the Binghamton University community.
“We hope that students utilize us as a source,” Adeyemi wrote. “We will make it our priority to help reach solutions that will benefit all and aid in change.”
Looking to the future, the Roosevelt E-Board wrote that they want to learn from this situation, and will hold mandatory cultural competency trainings for all E-Board members.
“In terms of moving forward, we do not want to sweep the issue under the rug,” the email read. “This situation has opened up an important and needed conversation in the community.”