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.