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17.18 7 Mar 2016


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A US university has offered counselling to “injured and affected” students who may have been offended by classmates wearing small sombrero hats at a tequila-themed birthday party.

The argument, touted as another example of political correctness to the extreme, kicked off at Bowdoin College, a liberal arts college with 1,900 students in Maine.

Photos of revellers sporting small sombreros, several inches in diameter, spread quickly on social media, prompting college administrators to immediately announce to students that an official investigation would be launched into a possible “act of ethnic stereotyping.”

The college’s general assembly, the equivalent of its student union, then released a “statement of solidarity to stand by all students who were affected by the ‘tequila party’, the hosts of which now face disciplinary actions.

Bowdoin authorities are now offering any offended students “safe spaces” and counselling session to help them deal with the emotional aftermath of the racial insensitivity of the miniature sombrero party.

The Bowdoin College incident is the latest in ongoing debates about the battle between freedom of speech and political correctness on college campuses, with a number of vocal critics claiming that contemporary students are overreacting to perceived slights – including students at Oberlin College calling inauthentic Asian cuisine in the cafeteria “cultural appropriation.”

The Bowdoin College student newspaper, the rather unfortunately named Bowdoin Orient, is now reporting that the host of the tequila part has been placed on “social probation” for the next 12 months, meaning her social activities have been deemed to fail to demonstrate responsible behaviour. The student now must attend an educational programme and training as an ‘active bystander’.

The student has also been asked to vacate her campus accommodation.

Two student assembly representatives who also attended the party are now facing impeachment, with student Bill de la Rosa saying they should be expelled from the college completely.

“These actions have consequences,” De La Rosa said, adding “These are leaders on our campus that were chosen and elected to represent the student body. Those actions did not reflect that last week.”

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