A party that asked students to come dressed “politically incorrect” has prompted an investigation by Macalester College officials who learned one student was costumed as a Ku Klux Klan member and another wore blackface with a noose around his neck.
Students at the private school told administrators about the Jan. 16 party on campus.
“My initial reaction was shock,” said Paul Maitland-McKinley, a member of the Black Liberation Affairs Committee, a student group. “I thought, this can’t really happen on my campus.”
A campus-wide discussion is planned for Tuesday.
“We hope we can start a deeper dialogue on ... why these types of activities hurt people and why they get the kind of response they do,” said Jim Hoppe, the school’s associate dean of students.
The student newspaper, The Mac Weekly, quoted senior David Nifoussi, who attended the party, as saying it was meant to be a satiric comment on “things that would be considered taboo in most situations” at the liberal school.
Macalester is the latest in a series of colleges to investigate student parties and incidents that have involved racial overtones.
Earlier this school year, Trinity College and Whitman College had parties where students showed up in racially offensive costumes or blackface. At Texas A&M University, students made a racist video that apparently was intended as satire, and a fraternity at Johns Hopkins University was suspended after a “Halloween in the Hood” party displayed a fake skeleton hanging from a noose.
The Macalester party was held a week before spring classes started and did not draw a large crowd, Hoppe said.
Macalester President Brian Rosenberg sent a statement to students, faculty and staff members condemning the offensive costumes and party theme.
“It is important to understand that the college condemns and will not tolerate activities of this type,” he wrote. “It is deeply disappointing that Macalester students would be so insensitive and demonstrate such a lack of understanding of the college’s values and mission.”