October 20, 2018
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Report: Bowdoin students face punishment for stereotyping at ‘tequila party’

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
The Bowdoin College Chapel's twin spires in Brunswick are seen in a May 2015 file photo.

Several Bowdoin College students have been punished by the school administration after a tequila-themed birthday party where “several students wore sombreros,” according to the Bowdoin Orient, the college’s student newspaper.

It’s the college’s third such controversy after a “Cracksgiving” party in November 2014 and a “gangster-themed” party last October.

The nature of the punishments wasn’t made public, according to the Orient. Two members of student government who were present at the Feb. 20 party are facing impeachment.

The school’s student government has condemned the party, as well as subsequent “anonymous attacks that took place on social media,” according to a Feb. 24 release (PDF).

“The Assembly, representing the entire student body of Bowdoin, stands by all students who were injured and affected by the incident,” the statement reads. The social media attacks echo the aftermath of the “gangster” party last year, after which several students apparently made offensive comments anonymously using the app Yik Yak.

The school’s reaction to the incident has been the subject of criticism from several columnists and blogs. The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell criticized the school for taking issue with the party, which took place on the same night as the school-sanctioned “Cold War party.”

“Students arrived dressed in fur hats and coats to represent Soviet culture,” Rampell wrote. “One referred to herself as ‘Stalin,’ making light of a particularly painful era in Slavic history.”

Right-wing websites have mocked Bowdoin, with the Daily Caller’s Eric Owens calling the college a “fancypants school” and noting that student government’s Statement of Solidarity to students affected by the party is “just 56 words shorter than the United States Declaration of Independence.”

In the Bowdoin Orient, student Giselle Hernandez penned an OpEd explaining why the party offended her.

“Look at the stereotypical props you put on, and ask yourself why you chose them,” she wrote, addressing the party’s attendees.

“My family wears sombreros, not as ridiculous props but as a sign of a proud heritage and fun customs,” Hernandez wrote. “My uncles have mustaches and wear boots, belts and hats sometimes because it is their fashion.”

Part of the outrage against the two student government members stems from the fact that they voted to condemn last semester’s “gangster party.” The two students are accused of having failed “to uphold the Assembly’s stated commitment to demonstrate that cultural appropriation is unacceptable,” according to the Orient.

Impeachment proceedings for the two student government members who attended the party are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.

“Some aspects of what has been reported have been accurate, others have not, and some facts and context are missing,” the college’s president, Clayton Rose, wrote in an email addressed to the Bowdoin community.

“Because of our legal obligation to protect student confidentiality, I cannot comment specifically on this party, although I will say that the issues we are dealing with are not really about hats or drinks,” he said. “I understand that this issue and the standards to which we hold our community members creates debate here and in society more broadly, and I know there are differing reactions and views. I welcome thoughtful engagement on these issues.”


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