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Theater Event at Arizona State University Excludes White Students (Updated)

Theater Event at Arizona State University Excludes White Students (Updated)

“an opportunity for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) students in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre to create performances that speak to their own experience”

UPDATE: See Statement from Arizona State University at the bottom of this post.

Things like this keep happening and it’s time for lawmakers to step in and take action. This is racial discrimination, nothing else.

The College Fix reports:

White students excluded from Arizona State theatre performance

The theatre department at Arizona State University recently hosted a cabaret show that explicitly barred white students from performing in it.

“The Color Cabaret” is “an opportunity for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) students in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre to create performances that speak to their own experience,” according to a description for the performance held the last weekend in January.

“The cabaret, held Jan. 29 and 30, was made up entirely of students of color, and the songs performed told a story with heart, grace and a cultural flair representing the diverse community at ASU,” The State Press reported.

“This performance also serves as a fundraiser for the BIPOC student scholarship fund, led by the ASU Music Theatre and Opera Student Organization,” the description stated. “Together we celebrate and highlight what makes us different.”

Students directed the show under the direction of ASU Assistant Professor Nathan Myers. It occurred at the university’s Evelyn Smith Music Theatre. The performing arts department helped put on the performance.

“Thanks to Brian DeMaris and our supportive faculty and staff, we have made it known to our entire community that diversity and equity are the pillars that carry this program,” the program for the show stated. “Through hard discussions and active change, the MTO program has made it clear that all Black, indigenous, and People of Color, no matter the artistic background, are free and welcome to take up space here,” student director Jonice Bernard wrote.

A version of “The Color Cabaret” has been going on since at least 2013, according to an article in The State Press. The university held the show virtually last year due to COVID restrictions.

The College Fix emailed communications officers Katie Paquet and Jay Thorne to ask for comment on Monday but did not receive a response.

UPDATE 2-10-2022 3:45 p.m. Eastern

We received this statement requesting an Correction:

Hello. We are writing to request that you correct the article on your website referenced in the subject line of this email.

The Music Theater and Opera Student Organization (MTOSO) is one of hundreds of registered student organizations at ASU. Like every other registered student organization, MTOSO is responsible for planning and organizing its meetings and programming. And like every other registered student organization, MTSO has committed to operating in a manner that does not discriminate. Consistent with that commitment, the MTSO Color Cabaret was open to all Music Theater and Opera undergraduate, graduate, and vocal performance students.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Office of Media Relations
Arizona State University

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Comments

Has education become so twisted that people don’t even know this is illegal? Or has it become even more twisted, so that they think that violating laws against discrimination is somehow good?

The Gentle Grizzly | February 9, 2022 at 9:14 am

Should White students stage a sit-in, like at a Woolworth’s lunch counter?

If this is a state institution, how is the Constitutional, and how does it comply with the federal laws and rules on discrimination based on race?

    Milhouse in reply to rochf. | February 10, 2022 at 12:49 am

    It wasn’t put on by the university but by a student organization, which is a private entity and thus not bound by the constitution. Whether it’s covered by state antidiscrimination statutes depends on how they’re written. I don’t think the federal ones apply.

      henrybowman in reply to Milhouse. | February 10, 2022 at 5:06 am

      It may have been “put on” by a student organization, but I assure you they didn’t fund it out of their own pockets. Arizona’s Revised Statutes look poorly on using state funds for such.

        Milhouse in reply to henrybowman. | February 10, 2022 at 4:38 pm

        Aren’t such things usually funded by student activity fees?

          The Gentle Grizzly in reply to Milhouse. | February 10, 2022 at 6:13 pm

          SAFs are compulsory. IE: the whites are compelled to support this sort of nonsense.

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | February 11, 2022 at 12:00 am

          Yes, but that is not public money, so henrybowman’s point would not apply.

          In any case, it turned out that this was all much ado about nothing. There was never any racial exclusion, College Fix just got it wrong.

Write the ASU president at [email protected] His name is Michael Crow

    henrybowman in reply to maxwell. | February 9, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    Don’t waste your time. Crow is a notorious uber-wokester, and he doesn’t care what you think because you’re not any part of his food chain.

    My state senator and two reps just got an earful about this, however, and they represent extremely conservative districts. Let’s see what falls out of this tree-shaking.

“The theatre department at Arizona State University recently hosted a cabaret show that explicitly barred white students from performing in it.”

Your proof sir?

    kyrrat in reply to tbonesays. | February 9, 2022 at 8:30 pm

    “The cabaret, held Jan. 29 and 30, was made up entirely of students of color, and the songs performed told a story with heart, grace and a cultural flair representing the diverse community at ASU,” The State Press reported.

      Milhouse in reply to kyrrat. | February 10, 2022 at 12:40 am

      Well, that’s not proof of anything. Just because all the performers were “of color” doesn’t prove that they barred other students. Maybe they did, but the bit you quoted doesn’t prove it. The only way to test it would be for several white students to apply and see what happens.

    lawgrad in reply to tbonesays. | February 12, 2022 at 11:46 pm

    The article linked to “The State” student newspaper which in turn had a pdf of the full printed program for the evening. All of the performers were BIPOC, and the audience was limited to BIPOC. But do not worry, everything is fine from a legal perspective because they included a land acknowledgement in the printed program.

“This performance also serves as a fundraiser for the BIPOC student scholarship fund, led by the ASU Music Theatre and Opera Student Organization,”

It seems to me that a BIPOC student scholarship fund is also illegal, even though most colleges have scholarships that are restricted to minorities or women.

    tbonesays in reply to OldProf2. | February 9, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    I don’t see anything illegal even if plenty is objectionable. The article does not provide any evidence that white students were turned away from this event.

      caseoftheblues in reply to tbonesays. | February 9, 2022 at 7:37 pm

      …’I don’t know any facts or details but it all seems good to me’…….SMH!

      artichoke in reply to tbonesays. | February 9, 2022 at 9:10 pm

      Is it legal for the university to have a BIPOC student scholarship fund? If it’s a non-university administered fund, is it legal for the university to give its space to the performance, unless normal rent was charged?

        Milhouse in reply to artichoke. | February 10, 2022 at 12:50 am

        I would think it is legal for the university to provide the space, on the same terms as it does for all student activities. Where the money goes shouldn’t be a factor.

        But no, it would not be legal for the university itself to have such a fund.

Seems to me that a demand for the refund of student activity fees might be in order. They’re using my activity fees to put on a production I’m not allowed to participate in? Were white students allowed to attend or were they excluded from that as well?

    Milhouse in reply to Idonttweet. | February 10, 2022 at 12:46 am

    Nothing in the article suggests that there was any discrimination in attendance, and there’s no reason to suppose there was.

    It’s not even clear that there really was discrimination in choosing the performers. That’s not stated in any of the source material; it’s merely a conclusion that the College Fix has drawn.

Things like this keep happening and it’s time for lawmakers to step in and take action.

The lawmakers did their part decades ago. There is nothing more they need to do here. It’s time for the lawyers to step in and enforce what the lawmakers did.

The problem here would be to find a suitable plaintiff. They needed to be on this early. Start planning now for next year’s show. Have several white students apply to perform and see what happens.

    henrybowman in reply to Milhouse. | February 10, 2022 at 5:08 am

    Absolutely not true. The lawmakers can launch an investigation, and then they can decide to slice the college’s funds if they determine the college is operating outside the state’s equal-access mandates. The legislature is very much in play here.

      tbonesays in reply to henrybowman. | February 10, 2022 at 11:48 am

      They are allowed to have a “Turkish Students Association” that technically has to allow white students to join even though none want to.