Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, November 15, 2018

AU fraternity’s philanthropy event cancelled after issues with event title

The University said it made a mistake in telling Sigma Alpha Mu not to use the name “Bad(minton) and Boujee"

AU fraternity’s philanthropy event cancelled after issues with event title

Sigma Alpha Mu's GoFundMe page. The fraternity used the page to raise money for their philanthropic partner, Armor Down, after their initial event was cancelled. 

After the cancellation of their “Bad(minton) and Boujee” event, Sigma Alpha Mu’s GoFundMe page raised more than $3,500 within 10 days, exceeding the fraternity’s original $500 fundraising goal for their philanthropic partner, Armor Down.

The event, which was scheduled to take place on April 22, was canceled on April 17 after University administrators told the fraternity they couldn’t use “Bad and Boujee” in their event’s title.

The cancellation gained widespread local media coverage after Sigma Alpha Mu posted about the cancellation on the fraternity’s Facebook page.

“Bad and Boujee” is by Migos and features Lil Uzi Vert. The song is about living an expensive lifestyle.

The fraternity first received a complaint from Colin Gerker, assistant director of fraternity and sorority life, on March 30 after they were told that their use of the word “boujee” could be “classified as cultural appropriation, and that the school would not host the event unless we changed the name,” according to the post.

Sydney Young, a senior in the School of Public Affairs and secretary for American University NAACP, said that the word “boujee” is associated with a certain culture.

“There are definitely cultural implications behind the word boujee,” Young told The Eagle. “In the context of which the which the word “bad” is used, I don’t know that without that song coming out, that that fraternity would’ve used those terms or understood the origin or the context of those terms. That’s definitely something to be considered.”

Annamarie Rienzi, D.C. state chair of Young Americans for Liberty and a junior on the School of Public Affairs, said that the school’s disapproval of the event was “out of the norm.”

Young Americans for Liberty is a national organization that fights for free expression and speech, Rienzi said.

“I wish the school hadn’t shot them down so aggressively,” Rienzi said. “I think going forward, the lesson that is learned is that you can’t just yell that something is cultural appropriation and shut it down right away.”

Rocco Cimino, the president of the fraternity, did not respond to interview requests from The Eagle. Cimino is a member of YAL, Rienzi said.

The fraternity’s post said that the event’s title was a “play on words,” and that many pop culture outlets that examine cultural appropriation found no issue with this particular song.

After canceling the event, Sigma Alpha Mu created the GoFundMe page.

On April 20, the University released a statement regarding the event, saying that they “made a mistake in telling a fraternity it couldn’t use the title Bad(minton) and Boujee.”

The statement also said that administrators aimed to coach the organization on the potential negative impacts it could have on students, as guided by the Freedom of Expression and Dissent policy, but the coaching was not present in this case.

Gerker did not respond to requests for comment.

“Above all, I think it was the fact that someone expressed to you that the usage of those terms could be offensive or hurt somebody or be disrespectful to someone’s culture, and that wasn’t enough for them to be like, ‘maybe we should change it,’” Young said.

ekhan@theeagleonline.com

Disclaimer: Sydney Young and Annamarie Rienzi have both written columns for The Eagle.


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