Chancellor of inclusive excellence: fake mustaches ‘dehumanizing’

Students at the University of Denver were advised against wearing sombreros and fake mustaches on Cinco de Mayo in order to avoid “dehumanizing” the traditions of Hispanic culture.

“As we celebrate, some of us may—unintentionally I would hope—choose activities that ‘appropriate’ specific cultures,” Liliana Rodriguez, Vice Chancellor of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence, wrote Thursday in a campus-wide email obtained by Campus Reform. “To be clear, cultural appropriation is when people adopt or use aspects of a culture when they are not members of that culture. This is a controversial thing,”

Rodriguez concedes that wearing a fake mustache does not warrant any sort of legal punishment or violate any university policy, but maintains that it is still “offensive” and so ought to be avoided.

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“No, it is not illegal, nor is it a violation of some specific university policy. But it is disrespectful. It is an extension of racism. It is dehumanizing and insulting to many. It is not kind,” she contends. “To see sombreros, fake mustaches, or other exploitive symbols against my heritage culture is offensive.

“As an ally, I also am offended by all the variety of ways that other cultures are appropriated throughout the year—for Halloween and other themed parties,” she adds, asking, “Must someone’s heritage be disrespected for others’ entertainment?”

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Rodriguez predicted that her email would elicit “groans” from some students, but did not seem to anticipate that it might lead students to criticize her for effectively abusing the university’s email server to advance her own political agenda.

“All DU students received this email in which Rodriguez, an administrative official whose 'Inclusive Excellence' office was recently established at DU, expresses her own personal views on cultural appropriation,” one student, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Campus Reform. “It's frustrating that the campus-wide email communications system was used for what is basically an op-ed by an administrator.”

Campus Reform reached out to Rodriguez but no response was received in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski