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Administration questions appropriateness of events

By Margaret Damghani
Opinion Editor

The African Student Organization planned to hold a date bid-off similar to the one held last September by the UNCP Chapter of Keep a Child Alive, which raised $678 for AIDS research.
The plans came to the administration’s attention, and the group was told it could not host the event. The ASO made a formal argument to the SGA on Jan. 23 to be allowed to hold the bid-off.

According to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Diane Jones, a fraternity hosted a date auction several years ago. People were offended by the thought of auctioning off humans and likened it to our nation’s painful past with slavery.

Events such as date and bachelor auctions are common in the wider world of fundraising. Yet, have we ever heard them likened to slavery before? Does the predominant race or ethnicity of the organization matter in how we see it?

If some feel that a date auction is offensive and reminds them of slavery, then they deserve to be heard. Others enjoy these
events and have a hard time understanding the controversy or the school’s decision. Are we too sensitive? Or are we too naïve?

The administration has the responsibility to be sensitive to the needs and desires of the entire student body.

For example, the administration discourages students from using the "tomahawk chop" at football games. It is offensive to some but not to all. American Indians do not all agree, either. This may be a weak comparison, but it reflects the tight rope the school must walk while trying to do the right thing with so many different people and so many groups in the collegiate community.

How many students who hear about or see a date auction would equate it with the practice of slavery? How many administrators and professors would?

A dividing line becomes apparent after speaking with different people. As a rule, students I have talked to do not see the connection. The professors and administrators do.

Perhaps there is a generational gap here in how we view the world.

The world has changed. The world is still changing. If the younger generation does not connect things like date auctions to slavery, then the older generation insisting on such a connection may be creating an issue that just doesn't exist.

While we do not want to forget our history, must we not move beyond it in order to have a brighter future?

President of the ASO Yetunde Akindahunsi says she does not understand the school’s decision. The ASO hosted a bid off last year without a problem. The planned activities included educational facts about each African country represented by the participants. Fun with education, fellowship and fund-raising. Where's the harm?

Does the school have an official policy against date bid-offs? Or do they handle such things on a case by case basis?

Dr. Jones mentioned the fraternity incident that happened several years ago. She says that since then the school has deemed such events inappropriate.

Yet, several have been held in the last few years. At least two can be found, with stories and pictures, in The Pine Needle archives.

"Until last Wednesday, I was unaware of the existence of this policy. If it is true that they created it several years ago, then I must question why the administration didn't prevent the SGA from co-sponsoring a bid-off in 2006, and why they choose to enforce this policy now,” said Hannah Simpson, vice president of the SGA.

Student organizations want to know what to expect when planning events. Confusion is understandable when events are allowed one year and not the next, or by one group and not another.

What issues should be considered to allow or not allow date bid-offs at UNCP?

Both sides should speak up now. The ASO should explain their event in detail and explain why it is not offensive. Other organizations supporting date bid-offs should speak up as well.

Those who do find such events offensive should clearly say why and detail their objections.

In the end, the administration should go with how students feel about this issue. Then , it will be time to decide on a policy, to state it clearly and to abide by it.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and not that of The Pine Needle staff.







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Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2008
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