U Chicago org nixes 'problematic' debate on colonialism
- The group reworked the event to debate whether Britain should pay reparations to its former colonies.
A University of Chicago student organization was pressured into changing the topic for an upcoming debate because some considered it to be “colonialism apologia.”
The debate, hosted by the elite school’s “Political Union,” was initially set to ask if “the British Empire [was] a force for good,” but student outcry over the title eventually resulted in a name-change.
“What is wrong with you people,” one student wrote on the group’s Facebook page, with another questioning why “you motherfuckers needed plenty of critical messages, posts, and memes to see that ‘was the British Empire a force for good’ is deeply problematic? How many white people are in this RSO?”
As a result of the uproar, the Political Union, a group that claims to provide students “with an opportunity to engage in political discourse by creating a space for individuals with diverse political views to voice and discuss their ideas,” eventually caved to the pressure.
In fact, the organization changed the question of the debate to whether Britain should be forced to “pay reparations to its former colonies,” and apologizing for the way it had “initially framed” the conversation.
“We fucked up,” the group wrote in its apology, going on to say that members of the organization “didn’t initially realize that it would come across as colonialism apologia.”
“After plenty of critical messages, posts, and memes, we can certainly see that promoting that topic is deeply problematic,” the Political Union’s statement concluded. “Again, we apologize that initially set up the topic in a way that implied support of colonialism, and we’ve changed it to a topic that we think will promote interesting discussion without the same harms engendered in the previous topic.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski