Interrupted crew formal generates apology

by John Mitchell | 11/9/06 6:00am

A crew team formal held in FUEL was interrupted by Safety and Security this past weekend following reports of offensive costumes and underage alcohol consumption.

The theme of the crew formal, "Cowboys and Indians," drew the ire of a number of attendees of the Noche Dorada event organized by the Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc. that took place at the same time as the crew formal. The LUL event was held in Collis Common Ground, overlooking the stairway down to FUEL.

In a letter to the editor in the Nov. 9 issue of The Dartmouth, men's heavyweight crew captain Abe Clayman '07 apologized on behalf of all the crew teams for any offense the event may have caused.

Problems began after students at the fraternity event noticed individuals walking down the stairs in front of Collis' information desk.

"We saw two girls walk by with stereotypical Indian dress on, so a couple of us went downstairs to find out where they were going to and why they were dressed like that," said Soralee Ayvar '07, who attended the Noche Dorada event.

Ayvar did not catch up to the women, but did see that they had entered FUEL. Along with the other students who left the LUL event, she spoke with a student at FUEL's door who was collecting money for the formal.

Ayvar said she and others initially met a significant amount of resistance from the student at the door.

"[A student standing near the] door said, 'Get off your pedestal'...First, he told me the theme was 'Cowboys, Farm Animals and Indigenous Cultures,'" Ayvar said.

She said that later, in response to questions about whether the costumes were appropriate, another student at the door responded, "Oh, you mean the cowboys? I think they're offensive too."

Clayman said that from what he saw no team member acted inappropriately toward the visitors.

"I obviously didn't see every interaction between each rower and every person who came downstairs, but as far as I saw, everyone who spoke with the offended students was entirely polite, understanding and respectful," Clayman said. "I don't know that anyone acted improperly; that doesn't mean that no one did, but I didn't see it."

After the initial conversation, students went back upstairs to the Noche Dorada event, found Alexander Hernandez-Siegel, associate dean of student life and adviser for Latino students, and asked him to come down to FUEL with them to further examine the situation.

Hernandez-Siegel agreed and went downstairs. Hernandez-Siegel then spoke with Clayman and several other students, poked his head inside FUEL and called Safety and Security.

"The dean walked into the formal, noticed several students who seemed to be very intoxicated, didn't know if they were of age and decided it was his duty as a dean to call security," Ayvar said.

Hernandez-Siegel could not be reached for comment.

Clayman said that he and another member of the team apologized "pretty quickly ... to the student and the assistant dean."

Clayman also told The Dartmouth that, "there was no prescription for how people should dress, and the theme was entirely optional."

After the captain apologized, the parties returned to their respective events.

"The people in the costumes either left or changed, and the people who came down left. Given that we'd only been at the dance for 45 minutes, we finished up the dance. We were there for another hour or so," Clayman said.

Soon after the visit from the dean, Safety and Security arrived.

Clayman said that he did not know whether the Safety and Security visit was prompted by the costumes or by another circumstance.

"When I spoke with them, as far as they were concerned, we had acted appropriately after we had been confronted," Clayman said.

College Proctor Harry Kinne left the office early Wednesday afternoon and could not respond on behalf of Safety and Security.