College Republicans Respond: Coming Out Posters

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This opinions piece was written by Justin Blake Shaffer, President of the Swarthmore College Republicans.

We had posted the “It’s OK to Come Out” signs to advertise our introductory event way back in November (The You Tube Debate Watching Party) and they were left alone. So our group did not did expect such a reaction that occurred this week.

The Swarthmore College Republicans used the terminology “It’s Ok To Come Out” to bring forth to to the reality that stigmas exist against conservative students on campus. Further, dozens of College Republican groups nationwide ranging from schools such as Brandeis, Wellesley, and U. Michigan have all sponsored successful “Conservative Coming Out Days” or “Conservative Coming Out Weeks” as academia has trended to be increasingly liberal recently and the speech rights of conservative students appear to be impinged upon. Believe it or not many students at Swarthmore and elsewhere label themselves as “closeted conservatives” due to the social consequences by being outspoken at an environment as polarizing at Swarthmore.

All such advertising and events are trying to bring forth to light serious questions i.e. Do professors impose their viewpoints on students through lecture and classroom readings? Many students have mentioned that at Swarthmore they feel the need to alter their personal views in papers, because if espouse conservative viewpoints they might receive a lower grade. Again, we ask fellow Swathmore students: “When was the last time you allowed a Republican to defend their views at Sharples?” So in educating the student body for bi-partisan America, Swarthmore and other institutions should reflect on whether “the other side” is being silenced. To promote discussion and dialogue we have events such as a Ring Discussion and lectures are in planning for this semester.

Regarding the “counter-flyers”, first and foremost, my greatest disappointment to this hour, is that Tatiana Cozzarelli, or any of the other perpetrators, failed to contact me with their issues with our flyers. Such contact could have proved worthy dialogue. By choosing to remain anonymous, there was no one for my group “to reach out to”. Secondly, as the original counter-posters stated, the Swarthmore College Republicans takes great offense by being grouped into “homophobic organizations”. In fact, we’ve had discussions at several meetings and learned that our membership has little interest in the social conservative platform of the National GOP. Again if Tatiana and others merely attended one of meetings she would have learned this discussion had taken place. I would describe the viewpoints of our membership as Rockefeller Republican : socially moderate, fiscally conservative, strong on defense with little interest in the “defense of marriage” issue.

Additionally, the language of SQU Coming Out Week has been paralleled several times on campus without producing such controversy. “Geek Coming Out Week” has been a staple of the Swarthmore community for the past several years. SCCS has directly parodied SQU slogans with such chalkings as “Your Tour Guide May use Linux”. or “Firefox! Recruit! Recruit! Recruit! Given this backdrop it appears the culprit of this flyering seems to possibly more motivated against Republicans in general rather than the supposed parallels of language.

Lastly , as the Phoenix reported in November when a generic College Republican poster was hung in Willets in November it was defaced and torn down. Given this, we wonder whether such actions of defacement and flyer removal are truly about the Swarthmore College Republicans appropriating language used by LGBT groups or simply fellow students resentment of a well organized, well-publicized Republican group on campus. Again, Tatiana Cozzarelli and the other perpetrators could have easily e-mailed us, but instead they chose to engage in a fruitless “flyer war” and attempted to rally students against the College Republicans through e-mailing nearly a dozen campus listervs on Monday morning, most of which were unrelated to the LGBT community.

We just wanted people to come to our meetings. 9:30 on Sundays, Kohlberg Coffee Bar. Hope to see you around.

Justin Blake Shaffer
President of the Swarthmore College Republicans


  1. Exactly why are you pinning responsibility for those who wrote the response to your posters on Tatiana? Even if she participated in the distribution of the message, the signers remained anonymous. You don’t know what if anything she wrote or any role she took other than forwarding the message to list-serves.

    And you’re calling them “perpetrators”?!? Posters have been removed or replaced or covered over but it seems to have been done by people on both “sides” and assessing blame — especially when you don’t know who part in that — is very questionable.

    Finally, it is appropriate to respond to a public message (like yours) publicly. That’s exactly what the response posters did.

    In an ideal world, everyone would feel comfortable identifying themselves, and nobody would receive retribution for stating how they feel. We don’t live in that world, so you need to respect those who try to remain anonymous.

  2. I just wanted to mention that there is no such thing as a listserve “unrelated” to the LGBT community. Queer people can be in any of them, as can allies. Not every queer person is a member of SQU, and regardless, SQU as an organization was not a part of this action.

    This response really disappoints me, and just highlights the problematic underlying homophobia in the language used by the College Republicans. The fact that the group is unable to even recognize that really bothers me, as a queer person who had nothing to do with either poster campaign.

  3. I am also very confused by the repeated use of Tatiana’s name in this article. It mostly seems irrelevant and out of place, and I have that reaction all the more strongly because the author never clearly explains exactly what actions he knows or suspects Tatiana to have performed. I suspect that the emphasis on Tatiana will prove to have been quite misguided and problematic. And, in particular, I think that the rambling sentence about “flyer wars” and “listservs” should have been rewritten or reconsidered.

    Also, while I understand the need for anonymity in certain situations, I think that the strong wording of the poster quoted in “Poster-ers Speak Out” suggests a similar lack of foresight on the critiquing side of this argument. I, for one, would be much more open-minded to such a critique if there was some sort of attribution to the claims. In particular, I have heard rumors that the initial “poster-ers” poster attributed their sentiments to the Swarthmore queer community as a whole. I believe that a personal or group attribution should be a requirement for someone to speak for such a wide constituency.

    Which brings me to a request: I would be greatly indebted if the “perpetrators” on either side could post the precise text of their posters. Without having paid much attention to most of the posters being discussed, it is extremely difficult to say much of anything intelligent about the actual arguments themselves, nor to say whether the word “perpetrators” might be a plausible description of anyone’s behavior in this situation.

    Finally, while I don’t want to fight over the point that there are very few e-mail lists entirely unrelated to the LGBT community, that critique misses the author’s point. It is probably fair to say that many mailing lists on this campus have specific purposes that are not furthered by a message about these posters. I don’t know which mailing lists received the e-mail in question, but the general point about the inappropriate use of mailing lists seems likely to withstand scrutiny. (In saying that, I’m assuming that the author is reasonably accurate in his reporting of the contents and distribution of this e-mail, simply because K’s response suggests to me that he/she might be in some way familiar with the distribution of that message. That also may not be a valid assumption, so maybe somebody should post the text of that e-mail, too.)

  4. “Exactly why are you pinning responsibility for those who wrote the response to your posters on Tatiana? Even if she participated in the distribution of the message, the signers remained anonymous.”

    I agree. Unless Tatiana said something directly to the College Republicans in another public forum, there is no real reason for this. Since you didn’t mention such an occurrence, why are you singling her out?

    “Believe it or not many students at Swarthmore and elsewhere label themselves as “closeted conservatives” due to the social consequences by being outspoken at an environment as polarizing at Swarthmore.”

    You poor dears, I am so sorry that you have had to endure such persecution. I will give you that for such a liberal campus, not everyone is so open-minded about a group that is known for its intolerance. But as a senior, you must be aware by now of how sensitive this campus is, especially regarding terminology. By responding to this issue so naively and with hostility directed towards one individual who may or may not have defaced your posters, you have only made yourself seem even more narrow-minded. Way to represent. Next time you offend a group of people with your ignorance, why don’t you just write an apology letter to the Gazette instead? Nice and simple.

  5. I commend Justin on providing a dialogue, and signing his work. I think that marking an individual and attacking a group specifically was a poor choice in the matter. I think that putting Tattiana on a spot like this creates a distance. I would support a decision to invite members of the community, including SQU members, to come and be heard as well as listen at one of the meetings. What Justin is pointing out about the many uses of the language is true, and no matter what comes of that the issue remains that a group has been marginalized and cannot comfortably put up posters. Obviously there was no intent to harm another organization of individuals, or else, it would have been done much more subtly.

    I hope that these two groups can resolve their differences, imagine for a second a campus where there is debate, but at the end of the day, the college republicans are maybe an integral part of sponsoring an event like sager, which might go against the traditional conservative views held by the party instead of declaring a war.

  6. I would also like to add that I find Justin’s attack on the anonymity of the counter-fliers disingenuous, as the Swarthmore Republican fliers had no contact information listed on them, either. Were the counter-flierers expected to show up at a Republican meeting, identify themselves as queer, and criticize the Republicans present? Whatever Justin says about the views of the Republican Club on campus, it seems completely reasonable to expect that a queer person (or people) would have major hesitations about coming out to and then starting an argument with a group of unknown Republicans of unknown opinions on the queer community.

    Secondly, as to Justin’s attempt to distance the Swarthmore Republican Party from the National Republican Party, as I said before, the Republican posters were anonymous. The most identifying feature of them was a large sticker that looked like it came from a professional organization identifying them as Campus Republicans. Given the total lack of personalization to Swarthmore and the colorful, eye-catching presence of a graphic that was clearly intended to associate Swat Republicans with a broader Republican organization, I would say that you can’t just so easily distance yourself from the Party of which you are a wing.

    And given the very clear stance the Republican Party has on queer issues, the onus is definitely on the Swarthmore Republicans to prove that they are different, not on the campus queer community to assume the best until proven otherwise (or show up to meetings at which for all they know, they will be ridiculed/threatened/insulted/etc.).

  7. Great response Justin. Your point about many other groups having used ‘Coming Out’ language in the past without this kind of reaction was right on. There’s definitely a double standard going on, but I hope more people will answer your call to have a more open political dialogue on campus and beyond.

  8. I am not sure what to make of the fact that the most interesting and substantive parts of Justin’s response:
    1. the language having been paralleled in Geek Coming Out Week and elsewhere and only the Republicans receiving the brunt of the ire- though this is probably just the burden of being affiliated with Republicans
    2. the fact that Republicans feel repressed on campus and the only reaction this point receiving being the very derisive “you poor dears, I am so sorry that you have had to endure such persecution.” What kind of ally/advocate demeans another person’s hurt feelings? Not cool, L, seriously. Even if you think that’s what the College Republicans are guilty of, can’t you rise above?
    3. Justin’s call for an open dialogue

    Have gone largely unresponded to. Am I disappointed or surprised or understanding or unsympathetic? I do not know what to make of it but the sidelining of the responses to what at first seem less substantive issues makes me uneasy.

    I think Stephan hits a few things head on. One, public responses call for public responses, and anonymous fliers seem fine for expression. Yeah the more “constructive” thing would be to contact the Republican leadership- though Abby is right and the posters did not provide that information, certainly it wouldn’t have been hard to find out, and now it’s out in the open for certain- but who wants to do that? Political Expression is a different medium than discussion. But both are fine.

    Also, Justin, let’s be serious: This language is provocative, and you meant it provoke people. I mean come on. It’s so obvious. Yes it alludes to a larger point about political repression, but there would have been less sensitive ways to do that.

    Also not sure why you called out Tatiana like that so many times. Maybe because she’s vocal and does exactly what you want her to do, like in her columns last year for the Phoenix? But it seems over the line.

    Also, Abby, the Republican party (to which I do not belong because their leadership is so awful and their ideas are different than mine) is diverse, even in its treating of gay rights issues. For instance!

    I love the LCR. Apparently, 1/5 self-identified gay and lesbian voters voted for Bush in 2000.
    Also your comment that the queer community is hesitant to show up to Republican meetings because, “for all they know, they will be ridiculed/threatened/insulted/etc” is a pretty good statement on exactly why the community should attend meetings. So they know if it’s true or not.

    But, in total, the Republicans did something provocative, and the campus got provoked, and the response the CRs got was certainly a mixture of offense at the language, disgust at the policies of the larger national party, resentment of the trivializing of advocacy language, and a bunch of other things. By making a provocative move, the CRs made it hard to tease all that out from each other.

  9. I simply think that since the Republicans are associated with an organization that is largely homophobic (the leadership is exactly the point–the LCRs are a tiny fringe minority of the party with little influence that the rest of the party is extremely uncomfortable with), the Swarthmore Republicans have the burden of proving that they aren’t homophobic and, if in fact they are not, they should be very sensitive to the queer community. These actions do not demonstrate an appropriate level of sensitivity given the positions of the parent organization.

  10. Seth: If you look at the Daily Gazette’s coverage of the issue in the News section, the article does address the point you raised about Geek Coming Out Week not having any problems.

  11. Also, I would like to know if a group of Republicans appeared on the campus who wanted to promote the “family values” (anti-queer) part of the Republican agenda, would the Swarthmore Republicans welcome them into their organization and give them support?

  12. I am queer.

    I am not fabulous.

    I was so offended by Tatiana’s usage of the word “fabulous” when signing those “anonymous” emails forwarded to students from her account.

    PS. If Tatiana wanted to remain anonymous, why did she sign the anonymous email?


  13. Defending Republicans is honestly a difficult position for me to find myself in but here goes:
    Attention Republicans: You’re a minority here on campus. That’s certainly unusual but it doesn’t change the fact that you are entitled to a voice and the right to be heard. You are also entitled to be as provocative as you want– I would guess that most small groups in hostile environments make strides by being provocative, not by being meek. Your posters were kind of funny and subversive, but as is always the case when someone is being subversive, the person being subverted got mad.

    Attention queer people: You got offended. Ok, it happens. Asking the Republicans to take down their signs is a bit hypocritical though. The queer community has gotten to where it is today (compared to, say 20 years ago) by being forward, and proud, and by refusing to compromise with bigots. If, when those hatemongers at the AFA asked the writers of “Stonewall” to “please stop glorifying the GAY AGENDA” or whatever, they HAD, that would have been not only a loss to modern theater but also a blow to your struggle for equal rights. While being gay is hard, and gaining acceptance is an ongoing battle, by turning the opposition’s tactics against them you’re sinking to their level. Also, and this is a purely personal note, this is a pretty measly thing to get offended about when you consider everything that’s going on in the struggle for gay rights today.

  14. “PS. If Tatiana wanted to remain anonymous, why did she sign the anonymous email?”

    Perhaps because Tatiana was forwarding the e-mail from the people who wrote it as part of her responsibilities as the Intercultural Center’s SQU intern? Which would mean that she didn’t write the e-mail and may or may not even agree with it — she was simply asked to distribute it. I don’t know, since I haven’t seen this e-mail or anything, but this seems quite likely.

  15. Urooj, good point. I was referring specifically to the comment reactions to Justin’s post, many of which really bothered me. But the DG covered it. Respondent, concerning the seeming smallness of the issue to the issues facing the community at large, I guess you’ve got to start somewhere, and you might as well make where you live as comfortable as possible. Sometimes, though, I wish that advocacy groups spent more time opposing more serious threats to basic rights. it’s really hard to think of anyone’s rights having been violated by this at all. Not being offended is not a right. It is a privilege which you automatically rescind when you leave your house.

  16. One of the things that really bothers me about the way dialogue seems to happen on this campus is how the “right to offend” gets bandied around. I absolutely agree that everyone has the right to offend. But surely you would also agree that I have the right to inform you that you have offended me, explain to you how you’ve offended me, and ask you politely not to do it again. (To be clear, I mean you, the plural you, not you, anyone specifically.) I’m not trying to trample on anyone’s free speech, here; I’m trying to improve the overall marketplace of ideas on campus by responding to the speech that has been put out there and letting the authors know what I think about it. I just don’t think that saying, “Everyone has the right to offend” is a legitimate argument for why those who are offended should stay quiet about it. Just because you have a right to do something doesn’t mean you should do it.

  17. The creators of the original anonymous fliers were Sebastian Duncan-Portuondo and Nick Forrest, who were joined by Shane Breitenstein in writing the opinion piece on the posters.

    While we are not afraid to put our names on our actions, we felt we didn’t have to do so to justify our concerns. We had talked to people about our discomfort with the slogans during the first wave of them last semester and this past week, and had known that we were not alone in the feelings expressed.

    We chose to utilize anonymity to demonstrate that we were not alone in our feelings and didn’t want to simplify the comment to our personalities – as often happens and is eloquently demonstrated by Justin who seems to have thought that the posters were developed by Tatiana (we only asked her to forward our fliers and opinion piece to multicultural groups, being an IC intern).

    We intended the posters to enter a public space in the same form that the Republican Posters did. I’m sure other people read, and agreed with, the posters we created and it became an impetus for a public conversation to occur. We do not believe that the right way to do this would have been to have a quiet conversation with the Campus Republicans, ultimately asking them to find a new slogan. That, in our opinion, would be silencing and ignore their provocation of a public space. Furthermore, there was no indication of a person on the Campus Republican posters, only the slogan and an elephant sticker which very much appeared to look like material from the national Republican Party.

    This has become much more personal than we had intended. We didn’t expect it to become another event like the chalkings. The fact that it did just demonstrates that most times there is an engagement of public space as a forum for queer-political critiques in (dare I say it) this heterosexist world (and yes we mean the world outside of Swarthmore as well as that inside the Great Progressive Bastion on the Crum – which aren’t seperated by a fortress wall in case you didn’t get the memo) there is strong resistance to “having that homosexist, victimizing b.s. shoved in our faces .”

    Sorry, Justin, it wasn’t Tatiana – you got the wrong gal.

  18. My question to the critics of the College Republican posters is this:

    Is “coming out” really specifically “queer language”? I haven’t looked into the history of the phrase, but I’m pretty sure the queer community didn’t invent the term (I know for sure that debutantes were using it first), and in my experience, I’ve heard it used to describe coming public about many aspects of private identity–coming out as a virgin, as a rape survivor, as an alcoholic. Also in more flippant usages–“I’m coming out as an N*Sync fan!” and such “trivial” usages have become mainstream. And nobody has ever expressed offense before.

    Help me better understand–in your opinion, are these usages also offensive, or is it only offensive when the Republicans do it because the Republicans are understood to be a homophobic organization?

  19. I’m not sure why this debate is focused on whether or not the anonymous “perps” should or should not have been offended in the first place. Whether or not the College Republicans were justified in putting up the original posters, their response to the anonymous flyers was certainly a bad move. Putting up posters about free speech was ridiculous in this case, since the anonymous posters didn’t take down or deface any of the originals. And taking down the counter-flyers (on public bulletin boards! and replacing them with the free speech flyers!) is obviously inconsistent and counterproductive.

    The College Republicans were given an excellent chance to publicly distance themselves from the national party on these issues, and to show that they, as a group, are capable of rational, receptive discourse with the rest of the campus — both moves that they seem to want to make, at least according to Shaffer. Instead, they reacted in a bizarre and self-contradictory manner which, if anything, gives more legitimacy to the anonymous posters. Even if Shaffer (and the rest) doesn’t feel he should apologize for the original ad campaign, he should at least apologize for the response.

  20. I told myself that I was going to stop responding to this because it made me so angry, but honestly, this is complete crap. This morning in Shane lounge, all the college republican posters are gone and replaced with the response posters.

    And while I’m here and angry, the tossing around of the term “homophobe” is ridiculous. You demean its value by attaching it to anyone who might disagree with you.

  21. “Swarthmore Republicans have the burden of proving that they aren’t homophobic and, if in fact they are not, they should be very sensitive to the queer community.”

    It’s a matter of trust. And the “offended” have none because they don’t think one can be a member of the Republican Party and have goodwill towards other.

    And Justin mentioned Tatiana because, once again, she is the one perpetuating this “controversy.” If she can’t stand the heat, she should get out of the kitchen–a welcome change, really.

  22. Rafael, I just wanted to point out that Tatiana actually was contacted for an interview on this subject, and declined because she was not involved in any of the postering. The e-mail was sent out from her e-mail address because the then-anonymous poster-ers asked her to do so (in her role as the IC intern), but the message was not written by her (and was not signed by her).

  23. (I’m the same Abby from before, but people seem to be using their last names, so I thought I would.)

    I just want to clarify something Rafael picked up on in my statement: I do not assume that the people belonging to Swarthmore Republicans are homophobic. In none of my posts have I accused the Republicans on this campus of personal homophobia. I believe that their use of the slogan “It’s OK to Come Out” was not an intentional act of offense, but was simply thoughtless and in bad taste.

    That being said, I am offended by it and I stand by my characterization of the “family values” agenda of the National Republican Party as being homophobic. As the Anonymous Poster above said, the posters were designed in such a way (with the sticker and the lack of contact info) that made Campus Republicans appear to be associated with the National Republican Party. This group is not called Campus Conservatives; it is not called Campus Libertarians; it is not called Campus People-Who-Believe-In-Small-Government-and-Big-Defense-Budgets; it is called the Campus Republicans. I believe that identifying yourself with a group that has espoused certain viewpoints squarely means that you have the responsibility to distance yourself from any views of that group that you may personally disagree with.

    Finally, Rafael, I understand from the tone and content of your posts on this and other DG articles on the topic that you’re angry, but I think this is an interesting discussion being conducted in an appropriate manner, and I really hope you’ll not let this devolve into meanness and personal attacks (like “If she can’t stand the heat, she should get out of the kitchen–a welcome change, really.”). That goes for everyone else above who’s resorted to sarcasm and pettiness as well–I have to run to class, so I can’t be bothered to look through all of the comments, but yeah–let’s keep this civil, people.

  24. If that’s the case then I apologize for assuming Tatiana’s authorship. Thank you, Urooj. But the IC intern ought to be more judicious. Mass incendiary listserve emails aren’t always warranted…

  25. “It’s a matter of trust. And the “offended” have none because they don’t think one can be a member of the Republican Party and have goodwill towards other. “

    Why exactly should queer people start trusting the Republican Party’s “goodwill”?

  26. Yesterday, I made a comment skeptical of the mass e-mailing. Since then, I’ve obtained a copy of the e-mail in question (many thanks to Justin Shaffer!), and it looks somewhat more reasonable than I’d assumed. The content is nearly if not identical to the “Poster-ers Speak Out” guest opinion published in the Gazette, and there are ten mailing lists that received the note: Enlace, SQU Board, Multi, SASS, QSA, SASA, Deshi, SAO, Feminist Majority, and SPAC.

    What strikes me about that list is that, probably excepting SPAC, all of these groups focus on multicultural or gender issues. As such, their members might welcome a note explaining any major concerns held by members of the queer community. To my mind, the omission of Colors and NOTA seems more striking than the inclusion of most of the groups in that list. As such, unless we know for a fact that one of these groups does not generally welcome this sort of message on their mailing list, I think it’s fair to assume that Tatiana wasn’t too far out of line in sending the message to those particular recipients.

    But, more to the point, I don’t think that e-mail etiquette is a particularly interesting or substantive part of the issues under discussion at the moment.

  27. Abby: first of all, thanks for being willing to use your last name! I definitely agree with all your points in your most recent post, particularly about the Campus Republicans needing to do more to publicly explain their similarities/differences to the national party as a whole.

    That said, I think it’s a bit over the top to suggest that Republican use of the term “family values” is purely a euphemism for homophobic policies. The 2004 national GOP platform uses such rhetoric to justify a vast array of policies, including their anti-abortion stance, establishment of the “do not call” registry, and more flexible working hours for private sector workers. While it’s extremely problematic that the same document pushes for “traditional marriage” when speaking about topics like welfare reform, I think it is difficult to claim that the entirety of the “family values” agenda is intrinsically homophobic.

    This probably looks like I have no substantive point. I suggest that the distinction I’m making is important because many Swatties have an unhealthily distorted perspective on the Republican party. While I’m not sure that your last post assumed that all Republican family values are homophobic, a previous one-sentence post did equate “family values” and “anti-queer.” Even though I disagree with the GOP’s social politics, I don’t think it would be fair to anyone’s understanding of the situation if that equivalence went uncontested.

    By the way, I’d like us to step back to that question about whether the current College Republicans would be comfortable providing active support to a hypothetical anti-gay activist who wanted to join their organization. I don’t think it’s reasonable for an open group for Republicans on campus to exclude anyone from joining. The question of just how much support the current membership would give to someone with those views, however, is a difficult but appropriate question to be asking.

    I hope we get some of those promised in-person discussion opportunities (the Ring, SQU open meetings) scheduled soon.

  28. I think that this discourse is great in that it achieves little beyond allowing precocious young minds some intellectual foreplay. It has played out beautifully into the hands of the college republicans. We have a small minority on campus that gets almost no press, has no voice, and for the sake of larger things until now barely existed. I think there was actually a revival this past year to bring them back to campus after a brief exodus.

    But we need to consider, are we really talking about college republicans, queer community, society at large? Or is this a question of individuals attempting to commandeer the names and auras of these larger organizations to lend weight to their rhetoric. A member of each organization has acted, but these were not actions supported by the groups – these were the actions of individuals.

    I know there are some large egos at Swarthmore, but do you honestly think that a member of the Swarthmore College Republicans can speak on behalf of the party, or on a more reasonable scale, the diverse makeup of the college republicans.

    failing consideration of the above, I thank you all for playing so beautifully into a larger plan of making a minority group a key player in a campus debate.

    encore. encore.

  29. Back in the day there used to be a club called the “Swarthmore Conservative Union”. It was, reasonably enough, a group for conservatives. It’s name was abbreviated to SCU, pronounced “Skew”. The nascent homosexual group decided to name itself Swarthmore Queer Union (SQU; pronounced, “Skew”).

    I understand that this particular name was chosen by the homosexual group in part to parody the conservative group. This was all at least a decade ago, and I don’t know how well the SCU took the parody (I hope they saw the humor in it). Time passed, SCU dissolved, and SQU remains.

    A lot of college seems to be about vicious vitriol by insecure and immature parties of every political, racial, religious, and sexual stripe. Simultaneously, however, college is a great place for fun, parody, and rubbing shoulders with diverse types of people you may never want or be able to meet again (much less share a room for a year with!)

    The “coming out language” is clearly something that the Queer community does not have exclusive rights to. The Swarthmore CR’s are right that they are indeed following other practices held at other schools and universities. But I’m also fairly certain that parody (with may be a little bite? Who knows.) also played a part in the Swarthmore CR’s actions.

    Let’s lighten up and try take a humorous look at life. People make fun of each other; people do hasty and foolhardy things. And lest we point the finger, we all have something of our own that is hypocritical or self-righteous. And maybe this parody is a decade-long restoration of the karmic cycle — wouldn’t that be kind of funny?

    The SCU/SQU thing has gotten me wondering… given the recent parody of PhiPsi and PsiPhi, maybe ten years from now we won’t have a frat and instead our major weekend social activity will be Star Trek marathons and the Weekly Pterodactyl Hunt. The frats will be the oppressed minorities struggling for recognition, while the geeks will be the ones who are generally accepted at Swarthmore but discriminated against in the outside world.

    But I don’t mean it. It’s just some light fun.

  30. “I would describe the viewpoints of our membership as Rockefeller Republican.”

    Interesting, I would describe my viewpoints fall in line with the Roc-A-Fella conservatives. I guess you could say I’m a Black Republican.

  31. I often find that when people are asked to “lighten up,” it is someone in the dominant, majority culture (a white straight Chrisitian male would be the quintessential example) telling someone in the minority culture (the non-white, queer, non-Christian female) to stop taking themselves so seriously. As a woman, I have been in several situations where men have told mysogynistic jokes or made mysogynistic comments in my presence. When I spoke up, I was told to “lighten up,” to “take a joke,” to “have a sense of humor,” to “stop taking myself so seriously.” (I’m not being abstract–this happened to me several times on a trip I took with a group this winter break.) Telling minorities to dismiss offensive comments as “funny” is one way in which majorities institutionalize minority-marginalization and attempts to have minorities internalize negative attitudes towards them. It is silencing. It casts the victims as irrational and the perpetrators as clever, witty, and worth listening to. I’m sorry that some people think I’m taking myself to seriously, but if minorities don’t take themselves seriously, who will?

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