Friday, March 30, 2012

Coombe Throws Lamda Chi & Tri-Delt Under The Bus


Chancellor Coombe wrote the letter below to DU students, faculty and staff today.

Dear Members of the DU Community,

Not long ago, we became aware of an unfortunate incident involving some of our students.

Just over a month ago, a University of Denver fraternity and sorority jointly held a party with the theme "Cowboys and Indians." Costumes worn at this event reflected negative stereotypes of Native American peoples.

Whether or not anyone meant to be disrespectful or hurtful, their actions did inflict painful wounds. We must all come to understand how our actions affect others, and how cartoonish depictions not only push us apart, but also reflect our limited understanding of one another.

Members of the Native Student Alliance, the Campus Activities office, the Center for Multicultural Excellence, and the involved fraternity and sorority have already embarked on a learning and healing process, meeting several times since the incident to talk, and more importantly, to listen. The three student organizations cooperated on an information table on Driscoll Green, and the fraternity and sorority read an apology publicly there on Wednesday.

As members of the University Community, particularly students preparing to be leaders in an increasingly diverse and global society, we must respect and value our differences. We must fight at every turn the perpetuation of stereotypical and derogatory misrepresentations. It is the responsibility of every member of the DU community to ensure that we continue to create an inclusive and equitable campus environment. We will all hold ourselves to this.

We hope that this incident, though negative, can stimulate a broader conversation on campus. As our community becomes more diverse, we still have work to do with regard to mutual understanding and inclusion.

I thank you all for joining this effort, and for your commitment to these values.

Robert D. Coombe
Chancellor

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are we going to boycott playing the Fighting Sioux now because it may be hurtful?

dggoddard said...

The First Amendment is taking a beating at DU.

Anonymous said...

The broader conversation should include how to get rid of this guy. He is not part of the solution he is part of the problem

Anonymous said...

Inclusiveness can't be mandated by diversity officers and school-marmish letters from Chancellors.

Inclusiveness comes from real frendships and shared experiences.

School spirit is the best inclusiveness tool we have.

Anonymous said...

Hey, what about my rights, George Custer was a distant relative. I am officially offended.

DU/CC Dad said...

Anybody notice this line from paragraph 3 "We must all come to understand how our actions affect others, and how cartoonish depictions not only push us apart, but also reflect our limited understanding of one another."

It seems like he is taking a pot shot at Denver Boone and us with the reference to "cartoonish depictions"!

dggoddard said...

Very interesting point.

Looks like its going fun Spring Quarter. Nothing drives up blog readership more than a good old fashioned Mascot controversy.

miller said...

Coombe really has it out for Boone. I was sitting close to him at a game in February and Boone came up to him and shook his hand. I stood up and cheered.

DU/CC Dad said...

Miller, we need to have that happen again next year...with cameras in the ready to save the moment for posterity!!!

old pio said...

This guy has got to go. And he can take his PC sermonizing with him. A couple of years ago the chapter of my fraternity at one of the UC schools took hell from the usual suspects about a flyer they distributed for an upcoming "South of the border" party, which featured a guy in a serape taking a siesta. It must have been interesting when the Latino president (and the 40% Latino membership) got the lecture about how racist they were.

Who was it who defined a Puritan as someone who lies awake at night, knowing somebody somewhere is having a good time, and there's nothing he can do about it?

dggoddard said...

DU needs to make a serious run at Condi Rice.

The problem isn't that DU doesn't have the money to pay her, its that they don't have the money to fix whats wrong with the school.

Too small an endowment to fund scholarships for needy students.

Anonymous said...

DU is left of Mao. Not a chance at Condi.

Anonymous said...

I would not say DU is left of Mao. DU has a lot of conservative elements. The Board of Trustees is very Republican, and the business school faculty (the most powerful entity at DU) is right of center, as is engineering and probably athletics. I

The law school is probably split between liberals and conservatives, as is the leadership (Deans, Provost, Chancellor).

The faculties of the Schools of Humanities, Social Work, Professional Psychology, and Women's College are all left of center, as you would expect.

The students are probably slightly left of center (60%), but still with a large conservative contingent. (40%).

Alumni skew right of center - DU was liberal in in the 60s, more conservative in the 70s and 80s, and more liberal again in the 90s and 00s. although people tend to get more conservative as they age,

Compared to Boulder or CC, DU is way more centrist.

Anonymous said...

Coombe is the biggest horse's-patoot to come down the pike in a long time. Someone should publish the precise wording of the DU by-laws regarding impeachment, dismissal, votes of no confidence or any other legal options available for his ouster.

Anonymous said...

Trust fund babies don't live in the real world.

Anonymous said...

Trust fund babies are the families who make financial aid possible for everyone else at DU who gets DU financial aid. DU is a tuition-dependent school, and it's the full -pay families whose money provides the aid to most of the kids who can't afford full tuition.

They deserve respect and not derision.

Anonymous said...

DU "diversified"...DU "integrated"...
Your hopes, these are?

Crap on Metro all you want, but Metro will always stomp DU up/down/sideways in terms of integration and diversity. And at a much more reasonable cost...

Anonymous said...

You may be right 1:56. But it's not fair to compare the two, Metro has the awesome diversifying power of having a bird as a mascot.

DU noticed this and tried to harness the powers of the bird and we were well on our way to achieving diversity, but unfortunately the bird was killed by Pioneers.

As a bird myself, I now find Pioneers offensive.

Anonymous said...

I'll play devil's advocate. Many people would consider what "we" did to the native americans to be genocide. I'm not truly comparing this situation to the nazis but I can't think of a better analogy. Would anyone ever think that it would be appropriate to throw a themed party having nazis and jews?

Obviously not. So, while a majority just see this as a fun and innoncent dress up idea for a party, some might be extremely offended by it.

I think the disconnect has to do with how "our" history with native americans is taught in school. I think most of us are taught that we did something really bad to the native americans. We killed them and took their land. For that, we, as a society are indebted to them (whether it be by "giving back" reservations, providing government support, etc.).

However, it is also taught that we faught the native americans in war. Some faught with us, some faught against us. Those who faught against us also did terrible things to us. Murders of women and children, scalpings, etc.

Therefore, I think many find it hard to connect our history with the native americans to be outright genocide. And, therefore we don't "get" upheaval over the Sioux mascot, cowboy and indian parties, etc. etc.

I'll admit, I've never taken the time to research this period in our history other than what I was taught in school. So, I'm somewhat ignorant.

The problem I have with DU here, and really anyone anytime this subject comes up, is they preach about diversity and inclusiveness by respecting one another and learning about eachother. However, it seems all they ever do is say "what you did is wrong because you offended someone, now admit it". Perhaps I'm missing it, but I don't see a true dialog back and forth with both sides trying to learn from eachother, I see the agenda of one side being stuck down the throat of another. DU doesn't care if they offended or upset anyone by removing Boone as our mascot. They only cared that a very small minority were offended by Boone. One might say that that's a bit hypocritical.

old pio said...

The dark heart of political correctness is the avoidance of giving offense (to certain groups). In the abstract, who can argue with that? The problem is empowering the most easily offended, "entitled" people. Like this Native American Pemmican Society (or whatever) on the DU campus. Just how many of these people are there? Apart from bitching about a party to which they were probably not invited, and making some white eyes grovel and beg forgiveness for being white, what have they done about alcoholism, fetal alcohol syndrome, unemployment, underemployment, TB and the other horrors which real Indians face every day?

A former senator once adduced on the floor of that august body what she called a "right not to be offended." How do you square that with free speech and the First Amendment?

In the case of the party, and its alleged "cartoonish" portrayals of Indians, what would the Pemmican Society's reaction have been if the Lambda Chis had consulted Chief Running Nostril to design totally authentic costumes? Anybody seriously think the Pemmican Society would have reacted differently? In their minds, these symbols (faux or authentic) belong to them and only they can use them or authorize their use by others. Again, there's that pesky First Amendment.

The NC$$ has whooped up a holy war against Indian mascots (despite the fact that scientific polls of Indians shows the vast majority do not oppose them, and don't even have a problem with the Redskins in DC). So now Chief Illiwek is gone and UND's Sioux will probably follow. Apart from pleasing some punk iconoclasts, only a fraction of whom are Indians, what good has been accomplished? Are things better now at Window Rock?

And we should be very careful about thowing the word genocide around. Because Indians regularly wiped out other tribes, enslaved the women folk and occasionally engaged in cannibalism. They were, in other words, as genocidal as they could be, given the limits of their technology. So if we're going to teach the "truth," let's teach the whole truth.

If I were chapter advisor to the Lambda Chi's, and they'd asked, I would have suggested going with togas. But they're college kids and poking a finger in the eyes of the PC cops was probably on their minds.

A couple of years ago a graduate student at Nebraska was hauled before one of those PC "hearings." Seems the kid had a photograph of a young lady, in a two piece bathing suit, on his desk. And some "lady" for whom the thought of an intimate relationship with a man is anathema, had complained of a "hostile work environment." She had to walk past his cubicle occasionally, and see the photograph. Turns out the picture was the kid's bride and it was taken on their honeymoon. So this kid had to go through hell because some slag didn't like the picture on his desk! Welcome to life on American campuses in the 21st century. The problem with striving to avoid given offense is that the most easily offended people are empowered, at the expense of common sense and free speech.

Diversifying the student body isn't a bad idea, so long as it doesn't result in establishing a PC aparatus complete with public shaming, "re-education" seminars and speech codes. It seems like DU is well on its way.

Anonymous said...

PIo, I'm Italian. You just offended me with that Toga suggestion. The Romans wore Togas. Come to think of it D.G. should also have to stand some place on campus and apoligize since he also wore a toga in Columbus in 05.
By the way , where is chief running nose that you refer to. Is he a professor at D.U or maybe C.C.?

Anonymous said...

be careful 4:50. I know you were only talking about a city name, but you just said the name out-loud of he who must be not be named around the pc police. We used to have a day on the calendar to celebrate his accomplishments and his importance to our country.

Anonymous said...

5:08
If these PC types pull that Columbus day crap on Hanover street, which is the Italian section of Boston, during the Columbus day parade they will find themselves wearing cement shoes at the bottom of Boston Harbor. Guido will see to that!!

dggoddard said...

"Whether or not anyone meant to be disrespectful or hurtful, their actions did inflict painful wounds."

Notice how Coombe accepts the word of the Native American students that they were "painfully wounded" but doesn't necessarily accept that the Lamda Chi & Tri-Delt didn't "mean any harm."

I've met quaite a few Lamda Chi and Tri-Delt members in the past few years and they have been on the forefront of the school spirit movement. They deserve our thanks for their past contributions to the university community and the benefit of the doubt in this situation.

Anonymous said...

Lamda Chi inviting sorority girls to their party? Wow, times have changed. Back in the day, Lamda Chi was full of guys that would later be known as life long bachelors.