A California college has apologized for its “insensitivity” after serving Mexican food at an official school night party whose theme, “Intergalactic,” included decorations featuring aliens from outer space.
In a letter addressed to its student body, Stevenson College - which is part of the University of California, Santa Cruz - said it received complaints from students and others within the university who were offended by the decision to serve Mexican food at the Sci-Fi party because of its perceived connection to the immigration debate.
The term “illegal aliens” is sometimes used to describe people who cross the U.S.-Mexico border without documentation, but many Latinos and immigration advocates consider it pejorative.
“We would never want to make a connection between individuals of Latino heritage or undocumented students and ‘aliens,’ and I am so sorry that our College Night appeared to do exactly that,” reads the letter, which was written by Carolyn Golz, a student life administrator.
Stevenson College Night: Intergalactic pic.twitter.com/LpOiA8CGob
— Carolyn Golz (@carolyngolz) April 15, 2015
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Golz said the incident “demonstrated a cultural insensitivity on the part of the program planners,” but called it an “unintentional mistake.”
Now, as a result of this “poor decision,” the university is requiring cultural competence training for all students interested in putting together on-campus programs as well as other safe guards that “will ensure college programs are culturally sensitive and inclusive.”
College Night is a special monthly event designed to bring students together, according to the college’s website, which includes photos from former themed parties, including “Midnight in Paris,” at which French food was served, and “Harry Potter,” which featured turkey, potatoes and stew.
“For [the sci-fi] event, students landed on Mexican food because they weren't sure what food would work with the intergalactic theme,” a college spokesman told Fox News. “It sounds like an honest mistake - choosing a food for college night without thinking about how it could be perceived by others. The students decided on Mexican food as they hadn't had it yet this year. “
Some believe Stevenson College is overreacting with its decision to not only apologize, but to now require cultural competence training of program staff.
“This seems a bit of a stretch,” said Geraldo Rivera on the Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends on Friday morning. “This seems like political correctness gone way too far, and now they are going to get much more inferior food at their next gala for fear of offending.”
Story includes reporting by Brian Tully.