May 19, 2014 08:11 AM EDT
Camel Not Allowed Inside St.Thomas Campus amid Fears of Offending Middle-East Cultures
The University of St. Thomas in Minnesota cancelled a "Hump Day" event last week following student protests on social media sites.
The protestors said that the "petting zoo" event featuring a live camel ran the risk of offending Middle Eastern cultures. Some of them felt that it was a form of animal cruelty, racially or religiously motivated and environmentally unfriendly. While others thought that the University was wasting its money ($500) by organising such events.
Jim Winterer said that the event organised by the Residence Hall Association (RHA) was aimed at reducing stress for students before their commencement of their exams. "Hump Day" is also commonly referred to a Wednesday for being in the middle of the week, or for any difficult "hump" in a calendar, Mediaite reports.
Last December, the school welcomed a reindeer at the end of the first semester. The event was well-received and no protests ensued. Earlier this month, RHA hosted a "Southern Hospitality" event, where students rode a mechanical bull.
RHA Adviser Aaron Macke said that the protestors probably thought that the camel was being transported to the campus from some other part of the world, whereas the camel in question was in fact owned by a local vendor.
Winterer said that the protestors also claimed that the "Hump Day" celebration would promote a negative carbon footprint and would displace an animal from its "natural habitat." Since it would result in an uncomfortable and unsafe environment for the attendees, the organisers decided to dismiss the event.
"It was never the university's intent to make a political or cultural statement of any kind by bringing a camel to campus. In light of the negative comments, it was clear that the camel's visit would no longer be simply a fun, stress-reducing activity for students as originally intended," said Winterer, KSTP reports.
Senior Ryan Nolan disagreed with the protestors.
"A camel does not 'degrade or simplify' our view of Middle Eastern culture. That would be like saying that turkeys simplify people's view of America. People wanted to see the camel because it looks cool and because of a pop-culture reference in no way relating to Middle Eastern culture," Nolan said, Huffington Post reports.
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