Students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota have cancelled an event to celebrate the end of the year after complaints that bringing a camel on campus could offend those of Middle Eastern cultures.
The “Hump Day” event, put on by the Residence Hall Association (RHA), was supposed to be “a petting zoo type of atmosphere” in which students could hang out and take photos with a live camel. According to Aaron Macke, the group’s advisor, the camel is owned by a local vendor and trained for special events.
“It appears however, this program is dividing people and would make for an uncomfortable and possibly unsafe environment for everyone attending or providing the program. As a result, RHA has decided to cancel the event.”
But the event was subsequently cancelled after students took to Facebook to proclaim their concerns. The students said they were concerned about the money spent on bringing the camel to campus—around $500—and the implication that it would be racially insensitive to Middle Eastern cultures.
The Facebook group called “Protest Hump DAAAAAAY!” had more than 100 RSVP’d attendees before it was deleted on Wednesday.
“RHA’s goal in programming is to bring residents together in a fun and safe environment where all people can enjoy themselves,” RHA president Lindsay Goodwin said in a statement on RHA’s Facebook page. “It appears however, this program is dividing people and would make for an uncomfortable and possibly unsafe environment for everyone attending or providing the program. As a result, RHA has decided to cancel the event.”
Goodwin declined to comment any further to Campus Reform other than to clarify that there were no expenses spent or lost on the event.
The camel wouldn’t have been the first animal brought to campus to be fawned over. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the school brought a reindeer to campus in December apparently without incident.
RHA hosted a “Southern Hospitality” event on May 8 during which students could take turns riding a mechanical bull.
“St. Thomas is a Catholic university that welcomes students of all faiths and cultures,” a university spokesperson told Campus Reform. He refused to comment any further.
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