Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina has apologized after at least one student claimed she was offended by an annual Mexican cuisine event held in two of the school’s dining halls.
The event, named “Maximum Mexican,” included food servers wearing sombreros and several other Mexican-themed decorations. While the overwhelming response among students was positive on social media, one student took to Twitter on Wednesday to call out the school for being “culturally insensitive.”
— Amanda A (@xoclemsonpanda) October 8, 2015
Clemson University issued a tweet the next day to apologize to “anyone who was offended.”
Clemson Dining would like to apologize to anyone who was offended by the Maximum Mexican event… pic.twitter.com/STZk2vbzj2
— Clemson Dining (@ClemsonDining) October 8, 2015
Clemson senior Austin Pendergist, like many students on Twitter, didn’t see anything wrong with the event. Pendergist told Campus Reform that he thinks the controversy was “ridiculous.”
“This is something that Clemson Dining has done for years without any sort of backlash. People love the cultural nights in the dining halls,” Pendergist said. “What’s next? Are they going to take away all potato based food as to not offend students from Irish decent? Remove the stir fry station so Asian-American students don’t feel as if they are being misrepresented?”
The same student who called out the college for hosting the event again tweeted, after the university issued an apology, thanking those who “stood up to bigotry.”
Thank you to all of the amazing people who stood up to bigotry Can’t wait for Clemson to see how great real Hispanic culture is
— Amanda A (@xoclemsonpanda) October 9, 2015
Many Twitter users reacted with disgust and contempt:
@xoclemsonpanda You are the laughingstock of the internet. You should be ashamed of your closed-minded, uptight worldview.
— Daily Bail (@TheDailyBail) October 9, 2015
@xoclemsonpanda Looks like TexMex food and you need some skin thickening cream.
— JCH (@JCHTEXAS) October 9, 2015
— Hal Klein (@hklein59) October 9, 2015
— Drew O’Neill (@drew_oneill) October 9, 2015
@xoclemsonpanda you are delusional and people like you are what’s wrong in modern society
— Slater (@OldManBody) October 9, 2015
@xoclemsonpanda You sound like the bigot here equating every latin american countries culture as “hispanic”. Each country is unique.
— Jeff McMillan (@j_j_j_t_m) October 9, 2015
Pendergist said Clemson has held a number of other cultural dining events that were not controversial. Such events have included St. Patrick’s Day meals of cornbeef, fried fish and Irish grilled cheese,” according to Campus Reform.
“For as long as I’ve been here, and probably for much longer, Clemson dining has put on certain culinary theme nights,” Pendergist said. “They decorate the dining halls and serve whatever kind of food. They have Italian night, Mexican night, seafood night, midnight breakfast, all kinds of events.”
But despite what appears to be a honest effort to represent many cultural traditions, the university said it regrets its “flattened cultural view of Mexican culture.”
“It is the mission of University Housing & Dining to create supportive and challenging environments that enrich and nourish lives. We failed to live out our mission yesterday, and we sincerely apologize,” Clemson senior associate vice president Doug Hallenbeck said.
Many reacted strongly to the university’s apology as well:
I am Mexican and offended by your apology. Grow a spine. @ClemsonDining
— King Kong (@climber25) October 9, 2015
@ClemsonDining Well, now you have offended everyone else for catering to this immature nonsense.
— JLaw (@yoopermomma) October 9, 2015
@ClemsonDining you are kidding? Your campus is creating coddled kids who can’t cope. With things as innocuous as FOOD.
— VK (@vjeannek) October 9, 2015
@ClemsonDining You should apologize for apologizing.
— Don Fredrick (@Colony14) October 9, 2015