Seasonal Appropriation a Growing Issue on Campus

A box beneath the bed of Dan Hopkins '16 anxiously awaits the arrival of winter. September 28, 2105. Ryan Gooding, Staff Photographer

A box beneath the bed of Dan Hopkins ’16 anxiously awaits the arrival of winter. September 28, 2105.
Ryan Gooding, Staff Photographer

Representatives from Haverford College’s Honor Council met this Friday to discuss what is quickly becoming one of the most contentious issues on campus: seasonal appropriation.

Concern arose when a heated discussion in a social psychology seminar turned physical on Tuesday. Three students arrived for class wearing snowflake-patterned sweaters on the balmy fall afternoon as a temperature of 73 degrees was recorded outside the Dining Center. Upon being confronted by their classmates, two students agreed to remove the offensive garments, but the third engaged in a vulgar confrontation that ended with several students trying to forcibly remove each other’s clothing.

Awareness of seasonal appropriation, understood to be the adaptation of certain seasonal elements for unintended times of year, has risen on campus this fall as a result of a poster campaign by a new campus club, #RealIssues. The main focus of #RealIssues this semester is reaching out to students wearing overtly winterized clothing, from Fair Isle sweaters to trendy beanies, and opening their eyes to the hurtful repercussions of stigmatizing the current season.

“We recommend friendly but persuasive techniques,” said club president Rashida Lariby ’16, “so I was surprised when I heard how things got out of hand. It’s really unfortunate.”

One member of the club was involved in the Tuesday incident.

Honor Council met preemptively on Friday, before a decision was made about holding a hearing, to discuss ways to lower tensions. Proposed resolutions included a school-wide pluralism session in a walk-in freezer to expose students to temperatures that would actually require winter clothing. Instituting a dress code was briefly discussed, then tabled. A preliminary vote saw the council endorse revising Customs Week programming to include more discussion of seasonal appropriation.

“In light of the tensions on campus, and the incident on Tuesday in particular, we think it might be appropriate to introduce a new Customs position for fall of 2016,” said Honor Council representative Lucy Dickson ’18. A proposal for the addition of an Appropriation Sensitivity Superior (ASS) to the Customs Team is being drafted this week and will be presented before Fall Break.

Several students have taken to Twitter, tweeting at Haverford College and the Honor Council their appreciation for the attention given to the issue. Overall, social media’s reaction has been overwhelmingly positive according to Lariby, who has been tracking relevant hashtags since Wednesday.

Tweeted one sophomore, “Seasonal appropriation is a real problem. I’m totally going to apply to be an ASS next year #RealIssues.”

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