Re-evaluate your allyship if you went to Evening of Elegance
Courtesy Nishant Pradhan
Halloween season means another Night of Decadence, another Evening of Elegance and another Thresher opinion calling on people to please stop supporting problematic organizations. Just ~fall vibes~ I guess.
This past weekend, hundreds of students attended EOE, which is hosted by Chi Alpha. After scrolling through social media feeds dominated by pictures of people in suits and dresses posing with the ice sculpture, one has to think: do people not know what they’re supporting, or do they just not care?
Not only are the slut-shaming motives behind EOE problematic, but the views held by Assemblies of God, the organization behind Chi Alpha, are unequivocally homophobic. There are videos on Chi Alpha’s website about a speaker being “healed by Jesus” from her gender dysphoria and and same-sex attractions. There are blog posts about the Pulse Nightclub Massacre being sad despite the victims’ sexuality. The Assemblies of God cites the Third Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM III) to denounce transgenderism as a disorder. Just a simple search of “homosexuality” on their websites yields a cornucopia of homophobia.
When you attend events like EOE, regardless of whether you went to “just grab food and leave,” you send a message that these views are welcome on campus. Your presence legitimizes this event and encourages the efforts of outside religious organizations to shape our campus. Posting your pictures from the night shows that you are willing to further jeopardize the comfort and safety of your friends in the queer community. I can’t wait to see your Instagram posts in June from a Pride Parade that you attended just because you want to dress up and because you think gay people are “so fun, sis!”
We have this conversation about EOE every year. Nothing is more peak Rice Activism™ than criticizing a problematic event but still attending it. Or acknowledging the homophobia behind a fried chicken sandwich but eating it anyway. Chick-fil-A was removed from the Hoot’s menu. Isn’t it time we take the same approach to events like EOE?
Being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community goes beyond attending Pride with your queer friends and getting drunk at gay bars. It goes further than comforting your friend when someone calls them a homophobic slur. Being an ally means using your privilege and time to ensure that members of the community feel safe and welcome on this campus. All the time. Attending EOE is antithetical to the principle of being an ally.
It’s surprising how easy it is to start being a better ally. Here are some quick examples: Don’t eat at Chick-fil-A. Don’t go to Coachella. Don’t go to EOE. Stop giving your time and support to organizations that shame the existence of your friends’ identities.
I know Rice’s chapter of Chi Alpha has a large presence on campus and is a valuable organization for some students. However, there needs to be more accountability on the part of Chi Alpha in order to communicate that they are aligned with Rice’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Rice Chi Alpha must officially denounce the views on homosexuality and transgenderism held by the national organization. Rice Chi Alpha should reject funding from organizations that are homophobic. If members of Chi Alpha consider themselves allies, they need to rethink what they are supporting with their membership.
And if you consider yourself an ally, do some deep reflecting on what that actually means.
More from The Rice Thresher
Before you attend a counseling session at the Rice counseling center, you will be told that “the RCC maintains strict standards regarding privacy.” You will find statements from the university that your mental health record will not be shared with anyone outside of extreme situations of imminent harm, and only then that your information will be shared with only the necessary officials. This sounds great, except that these assurances bear no teeth whatsoever — no enforcement agency ensures that Rice follows its public confidentiality promises, and there are no penalties for Rice if they break them. The Wellbeing and Counseling Centers should more directly communicate the limits of their confidentiality policies when compared to unaffiliated counseling centers, and students in sensitive situations should take the necessary precautions to protect their information.
This week marks the last issue of the Thresher for the year, and for the seniors like myself, our last issue ever. I have been a part of the Thresher since freshman year. And it would not be an exaggeration to say it has defined my Rice experience. As someone pursuing a career in journalism after graduation, there has been no better place to learn than at this paper.
In January, the Rice Board of Trustees announced plans to move the Founder’s memorial to another area of the academic quad as part of a whole redesign, adding additional context of his “entanglement” with slavery. This comes despite continual calls from the student body to not have the enslaver displayed in the quad regardless of the context provided. It would be just for these calls to action and the majority of the Task Force Committee who voted to not keep it there that the Board of Trustees decide to not keep the memorial prominently displayed in the quad at all.