Ash: Multicultural Greek Council’s protest was an overreaction

CJ Ash

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or editorial board.

The Colorado State University Multicultural Greek Council caused quite a stir recently by protesting the sale of a T-shirt with the words “Queens of the Jungle” emblazoned across the front. They claim the shirts were offensive: “The word ‘jungle’ has been used to trivialize people of color and cultures of color,” the president of MGC said in an interview with The Collegian.

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This accusation is ridiculous; once again, everyone needs to relax and stop looking for reasons to feel victimized. 

The slogan “Queens of the Jungle” was a play on the phrase “king of the jungle,” a common reference to lions, which makes sense because these shirts had lions on them. The purpose was to promote a spring 2018 philanthropy event, hosted by the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, where sororities compete with one another to win a foam social from Pi Kappa Phi. 

Any profits from this event were to go to The Ability Experience, a nonprofit organization that serves people with disabilities. The Ability Experience was founded in 1977 as the national philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity with the purpose of instilling lifelong service in its members and enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Pi Kappa Phi’s philanthropy events are traditionally successful in collecting individual donations and raising money for charity. 

Truly bad things do happen in the world, there’s no excuse for that, but this is not one of them. When a group of people decides to protest a charity event because the word “jungle” offends them, this is approaching new levels of insanity and takes our focus away from solving the real problems in the world by dominating the public discourse with trivialities.

Jungle is a word in Hindi meaning “not an inhabited place.”The word covers forest, wilderness, wold, waste, and even the world (without human structures). The lion is known as the “King of the Jungle.” 

One could argue that this title was given to lions based on their fearlessness, their strength and their ability to maintain order in the pack. One could also argue that tigers are more suited to the title, as they are larger than tigers, have bigger brains and actually live in the jungle, unlike lions. The debate between lions and tigers makes more sense than saying “Queens of the Jungle” is racist.

What we have is a fraternity hosting a fun event with sororities, donating the profits to a charity, and another group going out of their way to be offended by it – to the point of protesting a charitable event. Students are not helping themselves by incorporating this victim culture into their identities. 

The MGC did not use the situation to discuss ideas or open a dialogue with the fraternity about their concerns. They did not give anyone a chance to have an honest discussion about this. Rather, they went to the fraternity’s meeting to read a letter of demands. When those demands weren’t met, the Pi Lambda Chi Delta Chapter protested a charity event and then bragged about it over Twitter

This is not heroic or commendable behavior. It’s just another group of students looking to start some conflict on campus over nothing. 

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In speaking of his own experience as a student, former President Barack Obama echoed this when he said, “to make you a better citizen; to help you to evaluate information; to help you make your way through the world; to help you be more creative. The way to do that is to create a space where a lot of ideas are presented and collide, and people are having arguments, and people are testing each other’s theories, and over time, people learn from each other, because they’re getting out of their own narrow point of view and having a broader point of view.” 

A couple of generations ago, Americans survived tough times by hustling, believing in themselves and working harder. They did’t worry about these kind of things. Today, the pep-talk for the downtrodden is nothing more than excuses and passing the blame to someone else.

We live in one of the greatest times in our country’s history, and there are better things to spend your time doing than protesting designs on T-shirts. They were not intended to be offensive or racist; they were intended to help people and raise money for a good cause.      

Collegian opinion columnist CJ Ash can be reached a letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @Cee_Jay_Ash.