ROADMAN EVENT: The theme of a student night at Oxford University has generated a backlash
ORGANISERS OF a student night at Oxford University have been criticised for creating a “Romans and Roadmen” event.
Students at St Hugh’s College did the institution’s reputation no favours when they advertised the event on social media with pictures of Michael Dapaah and ancient Roman architecture.
In the promotional text for the club night, the organisers wrote: “Welcome back. The time has come for the first bop of the Holy Roman Entzpire.
Dust off your tracksuits, togas, or whatever roadworker attire you have in your closet, and come ready to put the ROAD in country road.”
The event page also warned students against bringing weapons as props.
It added: “Pls [sic] do not bring knives or large swords as part of either your roadman or roman costume.”
Eirann Attridge, an Oxford University postgraduate, tweeted a screenshot of the Facebook event.
She wrote: “I am sick of Oxford Uni.
“Knife crime is killing people in the UK and you wanna write ‘don’t bring knives as part of your costume’
“I’m sorry but this is sickening.”
She added: “In running this event not only are Oxford students being racist and classist, but they’re assuming that people who have experienced living on ‘road’ don’t attend Oxford. This isn’t a comedy you can indulge or a costume you can put on when it suits you.”
I cannot ???? pic.twitter.com/2E9ESEsNRC
— Eiremax95 (@EireannAttridge) January 7, 2019
Another student tweeted: “Interesting they’ve removed the ‘knives’ descriptor and put a warning regarding cultural appropriation. They should throw the whole bop away, and recognise how incredibly problematic it is.”
Since the outrage, the event organiser’s changed its name to “Togos and Tiaras”, added the disclaimer “our bops are safe and welcoming spaces for all attendees” and linked to a Dazed article about cultural appropriation.
Despite changing the name of the event, the original event image, which features Michael Dapaah in character as Big Shaq and a picture of a group of white boys dressed in sportswear with the caption “listens to Skepta once”, remains on the Facebook page.
Speaking to Metro, the students behind the event said: “As soon as we made the event public, we received concerns about the bop theme. Hearing these concerns and being made aware of the racial and classist connotations with the term ‘roadman’, we immediately chose to change our event and apologise to everyone at the college last night.
“We did not comprehend the gravity of the term, until this was raised to us, and we should have known better. We understand the mistake we made, and we are grateful for those who spoke out against it. As we are both BME students from South London, it is even more upsetting to us that our ignorance caused offence, especially in a space like Oxford.”
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