The Freshman Class Council has run into controversy with its T-shirts for The Game.
The FCC has decided to change the design of its shirts after the original design, which was submitted by students and voted on by the freshman class, sparked outcry from members within the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. But after the LGBT Cooperative and other students raised concerns about the design — which contained the word “sissies” — administrators asked the FCC to reconsider. FCC representatives decided Tuesday to scrap the old T-shirts, which had not yet been printed, and make a new design.
The original design, which won out over five other entries, displayed an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote in the front — “I think of all Harvard men as sissies” — in bold white letters. The back of the long-sleeved, navy blue T-shirt said “WE AGREE” in capital letters, with “The Game 2009” scrawled in script underneath it.
But the term ‘sissies’ is considered offensive and demeaning, and as well as a “thinly-veiled gay slur,” said Julio Perez-Torres ’12, a member of the LGBT Co-op.
After the winning design was announced, FCC President Brandon Levin ’13 said, several students raised concerns about the design to their respective FCC representatives, which they in turn brought to the attention of the FCC Executive Board and Dean of Freshman Affairs Raymond Ou.
The LGBT Co-op first heard about the T-shirts from a member of the Yale College Council, LGBT Co-op Coordinator Rachel Schiff ’10 said. She followed suit by contacting the dean and master of her college — Silliman — to encourage dialogue among the Co-op, administrators and FCC.
Ou said Wednesday that he first heard about the winning T-shirt design when FCC brought the complaints to him. In response, he told the FCC chairs to meet with the concerned students face to face. Shortly after he told FCC to respond to the co-op’s concerns, Ou said, he told Yale College Dean Mary Miller about the issue, and she decided to pull the design.
“What purports to be humor by targeting a group through slurs is not acceptable,” Miller said in an e-mail to the News.
Still, FCC representatives had concluded they would not make their final decision until they met with the co-op.
“Independently of Dean Miller’s decision, our primary concern was that no one was hurt, offended or felt uncomfortable with ourT-shirts,” Levin said.
After that discussion, he said, representatives decided to withdraw that design and opt for a different one, featuring a white ‘H’ in the front inside a transluscent white circle, with a white line slashed through it.
Levin, the FCC president, said the council had thought the Fitzgerald quote simply represented the traditional rivalry between Yale and Harvard.
Ou said when he first met with the FCC about the T-shirt design submissions, he and the FCC mainly discussed the more sexually explicit ones.
“I think the Harvard-Yale rivalry brings out the best and worst in our students,” he said.
YCC President Jon Wu ’11, who said he has been advising the FCC on the issue, said the problem was that the line of people that approved the shirts did not realize the word “sissies” was offensive.
“None of us realized the connotation,” Wu said in an e-mail to the News. “No member of the Yale community should feel marginalized.”
But Sophia Shapiro ’11, the other co-coordinator of the LGBT Co-op, said despite the fact the Fitzgerald design won with over 50 percent of the more than 800 freshman voters, she thought people would have thought differently had they realized the potentially homophobic connotations of the term “sissies.” She said this incident is an opportunity to educate the Yale community.
“I commend the FCC for their revolutionary measure,” she said. “They acted of their own accord without any administrative involvement.”
Levin of the FCC said the council incurred some extra costs from the changing the design, and that they expect some students to ask for refunds on the shirts.
FCC will be selling the new shirts in Commons the rest of the week.