UMass RA's rail against 'crude' Harambe references
- Over the Labor Day weekend, Resident Assistants at the University of Massachusetts purportedly released an announcement stating that “crude” references to the deceased gorilla Harambe will be considered racist attacks against African Americans.
- The letter warns students to be careful of "what gets written on your whiteboard," because such comments are "not only derogatory, but also micro-aggressions."
Over the Labor Day weekend, Resident Assistants at the University of Massachusetts purportedly released an announcement stating that “crude” references to the deceased gorilla Harambe will be considered racist attacks against African Americans.
In the statement, which was leaked to Twitter Monday, Resident Assistants calling themselves Ryan and Colleen inform students that “any negative remarks regarding ‘Harambe’ will be seen as a direct attack to our campus’s African-American community,” and warn them to “be careful of what gets written on your whiteboards, as well as what you write on them.”
Jarod Sasdi, the UMass student who posted the announcement to Twitter, jokingly tweeted, “My RA killed Harambe #RIPInPeace.”
In an interview with Campus Reform, Sasdi said he thought the RAs’ announcement was funny, but didn't think it'd catch on the way it did.
When Sasdi was asked if this would stop students on his hall from making Harambe references, he replied, “absolutely not, we will stand by our friend no matter the consequences,” adding, “I think their [the RAs’] lack of knowledge of Harambe may have clouded their judgement.”
Sasdi also noted that he does not think the “murder of a gorilla” is a joke, and that his floor was simply trying to pay their proper condolences to Harambe.
UMass has an African Heritage Student Community called “ Harambee,” which is a Swahili word for “pulling together.” According to the UMass website, the Harambee community is “designed to support students who are of African descent, identify within the African Diaspora, and/or wish to learn more about African culture and celebrate different African Diaspora cultures.”
Given the presence of this on-campus ethnic community, the UMass RA’s argue that any joking or negative reference to Harambe the gorilla could be seen as an attack by members of the Harambee community, and request that residents report whomever is writing Harambe messages to student administrators.
Moreover, the letter mentions that “phrases/hashtags which [sic] encourage the exposition of body parts” could be grounds for a Title IX investigation for sexual harassment, an oblique reference to a crude, satirical slogan often used to mock the outcry that arose when the gorilla was shot in its enclosure in the Cincinnati Zoo to protect a child that had wandered in.
“Watch out for any of these phrases,” the letter concludes. “We need to be sure to respect all UMass community members.”
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