Op-Ed: The Fine Line between Insensitivity and Disrespect

Opinion by and
Feb. 18, 2011, 12:25 a.m.

For those of you who have never received an e-mail blast from me, I am the President of the 6th Man Committee. Yesterday I was unsurprised to see an opinion written by a fellow student under the title “It’s all fun and games…until you call it a Fiesta.” The op-ed was critical of the 6th Man Club’s upcoming “Fiesta Night,” labeling it as “insensitive.” While I would like to personally apologize for offending anyone, I think the message behind the event is being lost and I disagree with the stance that we should prevent events like this at Stanford.

First of all, let me state for the record that I am sorry that the author and others may have felt “cheapened” by the theme for the event. I totally understand the sentiment that it seems unnecessary to associate tacos, sombreros and the word “Fiesta” with basketball. And I definitely sympathize with the fact that such events can quickly go wrong: first come sombreros, next, mustaches. Of course these objections were foreseeable; so what could we have been thinking?

I think the author is ignoring the venue and purpose of the event. It is not being held on the Row to celebrate drunkenness at the cost of another culture, as so many events admittedly are (take “International Progressives” or “Café Night,” for example). It is about bringing together a community of fans over good food (tacos), music (played by Mariachi Cardenal), fun prizes (sombreros) and, best of all, some exciting Stanford basketball (against U$C). Obviously, if one measures the event by whether it fulfills the traditional standards for a fiesta, it will come up short. But that is not to say the event is inherently insensitive or disrespectful. Although it is our responsibility to preserve Stanford as a respectful environment, this event, which has the best of intentions, seems a very misplaced focus for the author’s ire.

While the author may not have realized this when formulating her opinion, it is not the Stanford administration that is the object of her criticism but students like me. The members of the Committee plan all of the events for 6th Man, come early and stay late for every game, flyer weekly, go to dorm meetings, sell t-shirts for charity and support the women’s basketball team. We volunteer full-time to support men’s basketball and to make the student experience at games even better. In my mind, this really begs the question of who is being insensitive and/or disrespectful.

In any case, Fiesta Night will go on! Shameless plug:

Stanford men’s basketball vs. USC

Fiesta Night

6:30-9:30 p.m., Maples Pavilion

Hope to see you there!

Joel Sandler, B.S. ‘10, M.S. ‘11

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