Freshman Class Council changes Screw’s theme

After the original title of this year’s freshman screw, “Gone with the Wind,” drew complaints from the Black Student Alliance at Yale and questions from the Yale College Dean’s Office, the Freshman College Council decided Wednesday to change the theme of the dance to “A Midwinters Night’s Dream.”

A Wednesday e-mail from the Freshman Class Council announced the change to the freshman class. The e-mail included a letter apologizing to any students who may have been offended by the theme, which some students said glorified the racism of the Old South, and a flyer inviting students to the newly named event.

“At no point was the theme meant to hurt, ostracize or inspire feelings of exclusion or hate,” the letter, signed by the FCC, read.

The change comes after BSAY held a discussion about the theme at a meeting Tuesday night. BSAY President Jamilah Prince-Stewart ’09 said the theme perpetuated racial stereotypes of blacks found in the 1930s movie and book about the antebellum South.

“I would never want to celebrate the ‘Old South,’ ” Frederick Angell ’12 told the News after the BSAY meeting.

The original theme was approved by a significant majority of the FCC — and initially cleared by the University’s Dean of Freshman Affairs Raymond Ou — in September, FCC Chair Kevin Adkisson ’12 said. Ou did not respond to an requests for comment Wednesday. Adkisson said there were also administrative concerns with the tag line “Come get blown away,” and the sexual innuendo it connoted.

The FCC’s decision to rename the dance was made late Tuesday night after a conference call between Ou and the FCC’s executive board. Adkisson said the theme was changed in the spirit of inclusion.

“[The dance] is not supposed to be a great political event,” Adkisson said.

FCC originally chose “Gone with the Wind” because it wanted the screw theme to be “classier” than in past years, Adkisson said.

Some freshman, including Brandee Blocker ’12, said they would not attend the event because of the theme. Blocker said the idea immediately made her think about slavery.

“It’s kind of a slap in the face,” she said at the BSAY meeting Tuesday night.

Adkisson said the council received two formal complaints, one from Blocker and one from Rafael Greenberg ’12, about two weeks ago, shortly after invitations for the event were first sent.

“We told them that we respect their concerns, it was never meant to offend and that the dress was not supposed to be period,” Adkisson said. “It was a semiformal dance.”

The FCC had not considered the racial implications of the title until Blocker and Greenberg wrote in, Adkisson said.

“We considered changing it if anything else happened and nothing else happened until now,” Adkisson said.

The FCC held a discussion of the issues surrounding the theme change at its meeting Wednesday night. Blocker and Angell, along with several additional students wishing to voice their opinions, attended.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Prince-Stewart said BSAY would send a letter and petition to FCC to change the theme; Prince-Stewart said the written letter was not sent Wednesday because the council responded to BSAY’s complaints.

The freshman screw will be begin at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Comments

  • DoodleLover

    Great! Moving onto the next important issue - changing the name of the University because as a member of the Southeast Asian community, I am offended by Elihu Yale's affiliation with the East India Company.

  • Flower Lady

    I liked it better when they got Yale to stop reporting the race of crime suspects. Similarly ridiculous, yet with real-world consequences. Keep fighting the good fight guys.

  • Recent Alum

    DoodleLover: Don't give these people ideas… Calhoun College could be next.

  • Y09

    So the Yale Administration works to overturn the decision of an elected body! Welcome to the modern American university, FCC!
    BSAY - Gone with the Wind is a part of the American Canon. Get over it.

  • BSAY was right

    Everyone is missing the point. BSAY isn't offended by the movie Gone With The Wind. Rather, I imagine they are upset that their Class Council decided it would make a good theme for a dance. Get over your instinctual urge to accuse groups like BSAY of being hypersensitive and imagine how it would feel to be a black student invited to attend a dance whose organizers inexplicably decided to appropriate a movie that, while a classic film and a "part of the American Canon," is also set in a time and place where blacks were enslaved. If you're going to pick a theme for a schoolwide dance, you don't want it to have connotations like this. There's a reason why people don't have "Antebellum South"-themed parties. It is a time period that is not meant to be celebrated as casually as, say, the 1980s, because not everyone can easily or enjoyably project themselves into that world.

  • Anonymous

    "A Midwinters Night's Dream"? We're supposedly smart people here. The YDN supposedly edits. What happened?

    I don't really know how I feel about the theme itself. Does glorifying the Old South necessarily glorify slavery? I'm not sure it does. However, I strongly support the FCC's decision to change the theme once concerns were raised. There are certain situations in which people should be asked to just deal with their discomfort, but I don't feel that a class-wide social event is one of those situations. The right compromise was reached here.

    Also, I found the poster for the event which read "Come get blown" with the word "away" in a smaller font vulgar and slightly sexist. Definitely over the line.

  • To #2

    BSAY didn't ask YPD to never report the race of a suspect - only to not report it when that was one of only 2 or 3 identifying characteristics. Notifying the campus that their suspect is a Black man is his late teens or early 20s or, as one December email said, a Black man wearing a black coat and a hat, helps no one. It only turns the majority of Black men on campus into suspects. A notice from YPD is meant to notify the campus of a crime but also provide the Yale community with information that may lead to the arrest of the suspect, or at least viable tips. If I had called YPD every time I saw a Black man fitting those descriptions (both of which have been used in YPD emails), I would have called them every five minutes - when I walked into Commons, class, my residential college, down the street, into Ashley's . . . you get the point. Please get the facts before posting objections that have no basis. Thank you.

  • Billy Shakes

    Mebbe they're conflating "The Winter's Tale" with "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

  • Anonymous

    It's "A Midwinter Night's Dream" because it's the middle of winter….Why is that so hard to understand.

  • Anonymous

    We get the midwinter part.

    But the superfluous "s" in "Midwinters" makes some of us feel a little squirmy.