This years has been absolutely fraught with backlash against what many are calling an overly politically correct culture. You don't have to be roomies with Glenn Beck—which we imagine to be a hell of a lot like Bosom Buddies—to know that the socioeconomic and cultural shifts at play are leading more and more non-conservative public figures like Sarah Silverman and Jerry Seinfeld to speak out against extreme political correctness. But one South Carolina university is learning the hard way that just because you want to serve up some Mexican food, albeit with a side of good ol' American gentrification, does in no way mean that people are going to be cool with that shit.
This week, officials at Clemson University in South Carolina issued an apology after some students said they were offended by the "Maximum Mexican" dining night, an annual event at the school.
Although plenty of students took to Twitter and posted positive messages about the event, several said they thought that the way the event was carried out was culturally insensitive.
"Really @ClemesonUniv?! @ClemsonPrez I thought your focus was #Diversity #CUFiestaFiasco #CUlturallyInsensitive," one female student tweeted.
Another wrote, "Our culture isn't a costume and we will not be mocked!" That tweet was accompanied by photos from the event showing dining staff wearing sombreros and balloons with mustachioed faces.
In a reverse backlash—or a back-backlash, if you will—a third student tweeted: "I'm offended that you're offended. #CUfiestafiasco."
Austin Pendergist, a senior, was having none of it. He told Campus Reform that the outrage over the event was "ridiculous." He continued, "This is something that Clemson Dining has done for years without any sort of backlash. People love the cultural nights in the dining halls. What's next? Are they going to take away all potato-based food as to not offend students from Irish decent? Remove the stir-fry station so Asian-American students don't feel as if they are being misrepresented? When does it end?"
The University took the safe route: They caved and apologized. Doug Hallenbeck, senior associate vice president of Student Affairs said the university was sorry for the "flattened cultural view of Mexican culture" that it presented.
"It is the mission of University Housing & Dining to create supportive and challenging environments that enrich and nourish lives. We failed to live out our mission yesterday, and we sincerely apologize," Mr. Hallenbeck said.
"Maximum Mexican" is not the only cultural food event hosted at Clemson. They also do a "Low Country BBQ Bash" and a St. Patrick's Day-themed event. Are the servers dressed up as hicks and leprechauns at those events? And what if the school were to serve a soul food brunch—would it be cool for the servers wear blackface?
Maybe the naysayers have a bit of a point ...
In the meantime, our confused nation will continue to struggle with cultural sensitivity. Please pass the guacamole.