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Culture clash in colleges ignites debate

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Culture clash in colleges ignites debate


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It should surprise no one at this point that college students love getting riled up over a non-issue. If the behavior of a pair of San Francisco State University attendees is anything to judge by, the struggle of the month is cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation, simply put, is the practice of adopting elements of another one’s culture, such as food or clothing, for their own use. More often than not, it carries a negative connotation. An obvious and commonly cited example is if, for some reason, a white person decided to wear a traditional Native American headdress ‘just for fun’. True, there are some practices that are genuinely insulting and/or insensitive to other cultures, but recently, many have been over-sensitive enough to apply the cultural appropriation label to just about anything.
The cultural appropriation debate was brought up most recently by an incident that was filmed at San Francisco State University. In the brief clip, a white student, now identified as Cory Goldstein, is being criticized by a black student by the name of Bonita Tindle for sporting dreadlocks, “because it’s my culture” Tindle says. Goldstein proceeded to argue that “it doesn’t matter” because dreadlocks originated in Egypt and neither of them are Egyptian. He then tried to walk away, but before he could he was held back by Tindle, who continued to berate him and even accused him of touching her, and not vice-versa. Fortunately, SFSU has taken a sensible standpoint on the matter. An official statement claims that the university “promotes the rights of the campus community to engage in free speech, but does not condone behavior that impedes the safety or well-being of others”.
Unfortunately, other schools have not been nearly as rational. In late February, a pair of Bowdoin students decided to throw a “Tequila Party”, one feature of which was mini sombreros for guests to wear. The Bowdoin College administration, being the progressive 21st century organization that it is, promptly, according to the Washington Post, launched “an investigation into a possible act of ethnic stereotyping”. Despite the acceptance of the event by many Latino students, the administration decided to officially sanction multiple ‘safe spaces’ for those that felt hurt or offended by the event.
Imagine the consequences if colleges, and society at large, continued to go down this overly politically-correct rabbit hole. First of all, many would be discouraged from saying “down the rabbit hole”. The phrase refers to the story Alice in Wonderland, which was written by an English author. As such, only people of English descent would be allowed to read or reference the story. Logically, foods would be tied to certain groups of people as well. Mexican and Chinese dishes would be off-limits respectively to those who are not Mexican or Chinese. In addition, those who do not have any sort of German ancestry would have to think twice before having a hamburger, as they are based off of Hamburg steaks, which are named for the city in Germany.
In our global society, cultures are being mixed all the time. It is therefore pointless for college administrators or students to cry appropriation whenever an aspect of one culture becomes popular enough to be adopted by others, especially since that is often what drives the appreciation of other cultures in the first place.
That is not to say that offensive stereotypes do not still persist in modern times, nor does it mean that openly mocking other cultures is appropriate. Hopefully though, administrators, college students, and perhaps college-bound students will realize that cultural isolation they desire is just as backwards as racist ideas that they would claim to resent.

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Culture clash in colleges ignites debate