BSAY protests Freshman Screw theme

The Black Student Alliance at Yale discussed potential responses to what some members perceived as racial slights in the theme of this year’s Freshman Screw, “Gone with the Wind,” on Tuesday.

The theme has offended some students who see the glorification of the Old South as an acceptance of racism engendered by the period.

“For some people, it reads as a movie about the enslavement of black people,” BSAY President Jamilah Prince-Stewart ’09 said.

Prince-Stewart ’09 sent out an e-mail message to BSAY members before the Tuesday meeting explaining the controversy and announcing that BSAY would talk over the issue and decide how to proceed.

Prince-Stewart said BSAY members will attend the Freshman Class Council’s meeting Wednesday night and will compose a letter to the FCC outlining why BSAY found the theme offensive. The letter will be signed by any students who agree with the letter, Prince-Stewart said.

Brandee Blocker ’12 was one of the students who said that they would not attend the screw because of the theme.

She said she originally found out about the theme from her roommate who asked her what she was going to wear. After hearing the theme was “Gone With the Wind,” she said her initial reaction was, “I guess I’ll wear a slave costume.”

Blocker said she sent an e-mail message to the FCC to bring her feelings to their attention. “I’d like the name to be changed just to know that there was some thought and consideration,” she said.

South Carolina native Jahna Dominique Halyard ’12, who was present at the meeting, said she was initially not offended by the theme.

“At first, being from the South, I just perceived it as a Southern theme,” she said.

After the meeting, she said she saw the other side of the argument.

Two members of FCC present at Tuesday’s meeting, A.T. McWilliams ’12 and Sable Worthy ’12, referred comment to FCC Chair Kevin Adkisson ’12, who declined comment.


  • yalie

    Would it make everyone feel better if the theme was changed to "The Wind Done Gone" ?

  • Been There, Done That

    While blacks seem to want everyone to "appreciate" their history, why is it that they want everyone else to forget theirs? Generation after generation of black victimization. zzzzz.

  • Anonymous

    It's true, it's a racist movie. But they were racist times. Should women protest Greek-themed parties, because Greek culture was misogynistic? This seems to be protesting celebrating any era that was less than ideal - i.e. every era.

  • Yale 08

    Let the whitewashing (blackwashing?) of history begin!

    Let it be known that today is January 28, 0001 A.D.O.

    (Anno Domini- Year of Our Lord, Obama)

  • yalie2

    Another example of liberalism blown out of proportions. Why can't you people just accept things for what it is, instead of speculating about what it could or should mean. It's a theme for a semi-formal event that is supposed to be all about the freshman class having fun. Gone with the wind is part of the american culture, and I highly doubt that the FCC, nor the administration, would sponsor something with such an intended meaning.

  • yalie 2010

    you're not supposed to dress up according to the theme. it's a semiformal…

  • call to action

    How about attending the FCC meeting? This is certainly a debatable issue that can not be blown of proportions. The administration promotes liberty and individualism. Where has it all gone?

  • wow

    how long should everyone have to feel guilty about what people did before we were born?

    not everything is about race, and the selfish people who try and turn everything down that path are ruining the progress that really has been made

  • The few, the proud, the conservative minority

    I'm a minority, but ya know what….this campus needs to harden the hell up with this racial oversensitivity. Seriously. If someone comes in with a giant confederate flag, then maaaaybbeee that's different, but simply a theme is not enough to start this up. However, I would say no to the confed flag because our American flag is the one that should be displayed--the ONLY one.

  • Trumbull 08

    As much as I love Yale, reading news like these make me glad I graduated.

    Do you guys even realize how incredibly silly this protest is?

    Yes, blacks were discriminated during the historical era depicted in the movie Gone with the Wind and the movie itself adheres to discriminating portrayals of blacks. Does that diminish the value of the movie? No, not really.

    View things in context people.

    What happens next? We have a roaring 20s party and quickly deem it unacceptable because blacks were only allowed to perform on stage by coming in through back doors and then leaving? Or would a 50s party be a problem given that they still had different dance floors for blacks and whites?

    Wonder who will be offended when a 2009 theme party is considered 30 years down the line…

  • Y'11

    This is not an overreaction. Being from the South, I for one can vouch for the fact that racism is not dead and in the past. Good for BSAY. We should all take more principled stands like theirs.

  • yale '12

    "i guess i'll dress up like a slave."…
    so what's the theme now? a midwinters night's dream?
    i guess i'll dress up like a snowflake?

  • Anonymous

    "Would it make everyone feel better if the theme was changed to "The Wind Done Gone" ?"

    "While blacks seem to want everyone to "appreciate" their history, why is it that they want everyone else to forget theirs? Generation after generation of black victimization. zzzzz"

    My favorite:

    "Let the whitewashing (blackwashing?) of history begin!

    Let it be known that today is January 28, 0001 A.D.O.

    (Anno Domini- Year of Our Lord, Obama)"

    Though BSAY's reaction may be perceived as overly sensitive (I'm sure that the FCC didn't mean to be racist), racism is alive and well in America (see quotes above).

  • Freshman

    I for one am offend by the new theme, "A Midwinter's Night Tale." It hearkens back to an era where woman were treated as lesser individuals. I am appalled that out school would back such misogyny. Where is the Yale Women's Center on this? Or is the BSAY the only organization with too much time on its hands?

  • appalled

    Lighten up lefties. Why don't you call Mike Jones and volunteer or something ("Jones to target apathetic Elis and increase volunteer efforts" YDN, 01/23/09) now that your new leader has commissioned you. Perhaps you'll have less time to fret about non-issues.

  • Yale 08

    The BSAY is not out to fight racial injustice.

    They are simply cloaking themselves in the language of race to get some attention and power. (which goes to their heads immediately)

    Everybody wants their own little club to run with university money.

    It's a shame Yale gives some gravitas to these morons.

    Dear {Every stupid little interest group on campus, black to white, conservative to liberal]:

    No one cares about your opinion. You are like little children who convinced mommy and daddy to build you a treehouse. Now you want to sit up there and exclude the rest of the neighborhood kids.

    Guess what? There is more diversity and tolerance at Zeta Psi and DKE than at any of these worthless cultural centers at Yale.

  • Anonymous

    What about a military theme? Oh wait no….that might offend the leftist groups who are against the war. Let's have a jewish theme…that'll offend the muslims….let's have a muslim theme…that'll offend the jews….let's have a premed theme…that'll offend all the normal people…let's have an athlete theme…no that'll offend those not physically enthused…

    It will never end.

  • Nathan Hale

    Can't we just rage?

  • Anonymous

    Whatever one's feelings about the urgency of the switch, the response to the change has been disgusting:

    In an open Facebook discussion on the switch, in regards to a comment that the screw was not "the Yale chapter of the KKK," one freshman said that "I might [start one], just to show these people what real racism looks like."

  • Anonymous

    "There is more diversity and tolerance at Zeta Psi and DKE than at any of these worthless cultural centers at Yale."

    So true.

  • Anonymous

    First, I'd like to point out that BSAY has not protested anything, and that before posting incredibly ignorant comments you might want to get the story straight. Second, I think it's really sad that people feel the need to put down the efforts of others to stand up for what they believe in. BSAY is just as necessary today as it was when it was founded in 1967 because of people like those who've comment.

    In the words of Dr. King: "In the end,we will not remember the words of enemies, but the silence of our peers."

    Those who cast aside, make fun of, or try to belittle the feelings of others without walking a day in their shoes should be ashamed of themselves-- you are the enemy.

    Those who are reluctant to voice their opinions and concerns because of boneheads like those who posted above have an obligation to stand up when necessary. Ignorance is among us, and next time it maybe bigger than a party theme.

    Oh and BTW the theme has changed get over it and stop hating- literally.

  • #22

    It's quite pathetic that YDN mischaracterizes the situation. BSAY did not protest. It asked for a discussion with FCC to express their concerns. BSAY agreed to attend the FCC meeting but after dialogue, it was FCC who decided to change the theme because they couldn't justify why they'd chosen the theme in the first place. Yet, they acknowledged receiving complaints.

  • Trumbull 08

    "Second, I think it's really sad that people feel the need to put down the efforts of others to stand up for what they believe in."

    See, this kind of comment reminds me while I disliked so many of the minority groups on campus (despite being a minority myself). Having experienced racism, I hate that civil rights and minority right groups on campus have, for the most part, become theater. Nothing has changed in our world, not even in the microcosm of Yale, by taking up this fight. Instead, jokes were made online, the YCC obliged to avoid trouble, and everyone who thought this fight was trivial will probably pay that much less attention next time BSAY takes up an issue.

    I wouldn't have a problem if they took up menial fights like these, if they accompanied them with campaigns that actually made a difference. Like massively focusing their efforts to help the deficient education minorities receive in the New Haven community, or sending letters to congress to make necessary changes in many discriminatory legislations that still exist in many states, or actually rising up when it does matter - in cases of deliberate and purposeful racism.

    What has been gained with this fight?

    Oh wait, let me take the next comment by the from the previous post:

    "Those who cast aside, make fun of, or try to belittle the feelings of others without walking a day in their shoes should be ashamed of themselves- you are the enemy"

    Never thought approaching anything with humor made me an enemy, but so be it.

    Apparently, belittling the efforts and ideas of those who suggested the party theme is perfectly alright because it offended you, but belittling the efforts of the BSAY which bothered many of us is not alright.

    But don't worry, I got tired of fighting double standards in minority groups a WHILE ago. Probably about the same time as I quit mine.

  • I love it

    I cannot wait for the massive cultural shock when these kids leave Yale.

    Guess what? Racial preferences of any kind: Black, White, Purple, Green are ALL RACIST.

    I love the faulty reasoning behind all the stupid cultural groups.

    But then again, their existence was never about fighting racism or intolerance. It's about institutionalizing their own special brand of racism.

  • Pick your battles

    I think one lesson here for BSAY is that they need to pick their battles.

    I understand and support the mission of groups like BSAY. The hold a vital place in the social fabric of Yale. Still, one cannot complain about every little thing that may or may not be a slight in life. For example, parties that could be deemed misogynistic (with titles such as "CEOs and Secretary Hos", etc. etc.) occur all the time at Yale, but they are not protested because it is clear that their aim is not to enhance discrimination. It's to have fun. And so is the Freshman Screw. Everything must be taken in context.

    If you cry victim at each possible injustice, people become deaf to your cause. I'm not arguing that BSAY should lie down over issues that concern it, but rather that it should reevaluate what really is worth being concerned about in the first place. Otherwise they risk cutting of their nose despite their face.

    Leave college, and you'll realize that there are MUCH more important things to worry about in life than the midly-offensive title of some midly-attended dance.

  • Black Realist '09

    MLK Jr:

    A man who made some fantastic speeches and definitely suffered discrimination.

    But that doesn't excuse the reality that if he had lived out his life he would have simply become another race-baiting, Jesse Jackson-type, demanding reparations and quotas and affirmative action.

    I for one, stand as a black man willing to recognize his personal sacrifices but also his incredibly flawed nature.

    BSAY does NOT speak for me!

    End racism in every form! Black or White!

  • Y11

    In response to those who say the angry responses on here proves racism is still a problem, keep in mind it's all reactionary. If the BSAY didn't make a big deal out of stuff like this… stuff that I don't think ANYONE viewed as racist BEFORE their protests… there would be no reaction.

    Racism will inevitably spawn as backlash, so next time leave it.

  • Anonymous

    @ 21:
    I realize that some people might have been offended, but the idea that the theme of Freshman Screw should be changed because a small group of racially charged people feel slighted seems a bit excessive. Although it shouldn't matter, I'm a black sophomore, and I can't say I've seen much good in the bizarre campaigns minority-centric groups like BSAY have waged in my time here at Yale. And now people like you are anonymously going around calling people "the enemy". Get over yourself. Few things are more off-putting than pompous, self-righteous crusaders for "social justice", or whatever it is you would call it.

    If you really want to, you can find something "insensitive" or "racist" or "discriminatory" or whatever else in just about ANY theme imaginable. A founding father's theme. Oh wait, they had slaves. A Classical theme. Oh wait, they were misogynists AND owned slaves. A Shakespeare or Homer theme. Oh wait, they were racist, anti-Semitic, misogynists (on that note, how dare we teach either of them in the classroom?!). A German theme? Oops, they once had the Holocaust and are now forever defined by it. A Spanish theme? Didn't they persecute people at some point? A Martin L. King or JFK theme. Oh wait, they were womanizers (and the former a religious cleric who might offend nonbelievers--f.y.i. I'm an atheist). My ancestors were slaves in at least two different countries and later oppressed in the Jim Crow South for generations, and I'm saying the disgruntled voices in BSAY (and groups like it who define themselves by oppressed minority status) need to get some perspective and pick their battles a little better.

    I respect the FCC for taking the high ground in this and changing the theme rather than fight a ludicrous political battle (which would have nonetheless been admirably principled). My concern is that this age of political correctness is giving rise to absurd campaigns divorced from a healthy approach to life. When you're whining over themes for dances (for which, incidentally, people were supposed to dress semi-formal, not in costume), you have to wonder how relevant or meaningful your campaigns really are.

  • Hieronymus

    How…odd: I find myself in agreement with BSAY.

    While I was set to set my meter at "mildly outraged," the comment:
    "I guess I'll dress up like a slave."
    really does, I think, carry weight.

    Let us look at it this way: would a member of BSAY have come up with the "Gone with the Wind" theme? Hmm?

    Trust me: I am not one to be overly senstive; however, in this case, I see the merit of the BSAY position.

    As noted: how…odd.

  • truth

    #28 makes really good points. Would BSAY agree that those situations #28 enumerated should also be remedied?

  • Mike

    "It's all about heritage, not hate," some who plaster confederate flag decals on their bumpers claim. Yeah, right.

    The "Old South" is something we should all want to get past. It's not like Ancient Greece, that gave us philosophy and architecture and weird sex. It's not like the American Revolution, that gave us a republic like none ever seen. It's just the Old South, and it was all about plantations and cotton and slaves. It tried to sever our nation. If the Old South succeeded, the Super Bowl would be taking place in a foreign country Sunday.

  • Asian Yale'08

    One question: what would happen if a few students at Yale decided to start up a WSAY: White Student Alliance at Yale?

    …It would be racist, wouldn't it??

    But BSAY is perfectly non-racist.

    Hypocrites, the whole lot of you, you don't understand a thing about racism.

  • @#32

    It's called the YPU.

  • yale alum

    Kudos to BSAY for doing this important work in the face of nay-sayers and the many Yalies who seem incapable of understanding that racism is alive and kicking in this country… and especially at Yale! We also need to understand that racism can come in many forms. In our day and age, it is no longer just blatant racism a la the KKK or confederate flags; it is the underlying, latent racism that is built into White, American culture like the cultural classic "Gone with the Wind."

  • Recent Alum

    @ Asian Yale'08

    Yale as an institution is a white student alliance on its own. What would be the point of starting a WSAY within a larger WSAY. lol…that would be silly. Its kind of clear that you, my dear, don't know a thing about racism…