Letter to the Editor

A little part of me cheered when I first saw the now-infamous posters regarding SigEp’s “P + H” party. I was excited that someone had finally decided to break the silence about this ignorant fiasco of a theme. I also predicted that SigEp would be forced to defend their position at all costs, effectively preventing any form of dialogue on the actual issue –which, unfortunately, came true.
The real crux of the whole incident is that the posters featured the Greek letters, thus changing the campaign from a perfectly legal expression of perceptions regarding the event to an unfortunate act of slander.
However, while I don’t condone the methods, it is clear that the individual who placed the posters had the noble intention to shock the campus into considering these issues, which have been callously ignored for too long.
In their letter to the Lawrence community printed in last week’s Lawrentian, Toycen and Frazier seem to miss this point entirely. I understand their need to clarify that SigEp does not condone racist or misogynistic stereotypes, but doesn’t the fact that there was any room for confusion say something about the organization, or at least the event in question?
If the public can’t tell the difference between real and falsified SigEp posters based on the presence or absence of blatantly racist messages, then SigEp has a much bigger publicity problem than this poster campaign.
Unfortunately, they don’t deal with this very well. In their letter, Toycen and Frazier suggest that because “many people of many different ethnicities showed up” to the party, then it must not be offensive to anyone — which, in light of the poster campaign, they know isn’t true. They go on to express amazement at “how many women showed up to ‘celebrate violence against sex workers,'” as though all women are otherwise more sensitive to the plight of sex workers. I believe this shows the “commitment to ignorance” that the poster-maker mentioned.
The fact is that the event is offensive, though not just to minorities and women; this event is offensive to sex workers. I don’t expect the SigEp’s to consider the feelings of these people, or even to consider them people (at least not based on their track record), but I do expect the greater campus community to give a damn. Sex workers are in an unfortunate situation, and to make light of it in this way is akin to throwing themed parties of “drug addict” or “malaria-afflicted Africa.”
Toycen and Frazier side step this whole problem by stating that the event “is not about politics,” which is to say, they don’t care about the politics involved. They may see this as a convenient excuse, but I find it inconveniently inexcusable.
The fact that they didn’t mean to offend anyone doesn’t make up for the fact that they did. If they don’t like the way the poster-maker perceives the event, maybe they should change the way they present it.Drew Baumgartner
Class of ’09