Mustang Daily Staff Report
A white trash-themed party scheduled for tonight at Buffalo Pub & Grill is prompting criticism from a Cal Poly administrator, but the downtown restaurant’s owner said she did not anticipate the theme causing controversy.
The bar, which is located on Higuera Street in downtown San Luis Obispo, advertised the event on Facebook and with posters on Cal Poly’s campus. The Facebook event page encourages attendees to “Bust out those wife-beaters and jean shorts, because (it’s) time for our WHITE TRASH PARTY!!!”
Annie Holmes, Cal Poly’s executive director for campus diversity and inclusivity, said she did a “double-take” after first seeing a sign for the event on campus. The poster includes two Confederate flags and a disheveled man raising a beer while smoking a cigarette.
“My concern is that many people may not understand some of the symbols like the Confederate flag and just what that may entail,” Holmes said. “And it may exclude people who are in that socioeconomic situation in their life and don’t really make fun of living in a trailer park.”
Biological sciences junior Michelle Tyson, who walked by the poster on campus Wednesday evening, said the Confederate flags seemed “pretty bad and racially insensitive.”
“I don’t know if black students would be offended by it or not,” Tyson said.
Buffalo Pub & Grill owner Myriam Olaizola said she didn’t expect the event to offend locals. Olaizola, who comes from a French background, said she didn’t initially understand the white trash theme when an employee proposed it to her.
“It sounds like I should have looked at that poster a little more in detail — I certainly didn’t intend any harm with it,” Olaizola said. “We’re open to everybody, and I don’t believe in stereotypes. It was all positive and fun on our part, and I don’t want people to look at it and think we’re not welcoming to all sorts of people.”
The feedback regarding the party has been positive so far though, Olaizola said. She noted no one younger than the age of 21 will be allowed to attend, and she expects attendees to wear “old, worn” attire and “couch-potato” clothing.
Though Holmes, who was hired in March to lead Cal Poly’s administrative efforts on diversity, expressed concerns about the theme, she said she does not want to regulate which off-campus events students attend. She did note, however, that Cal Poly is working with the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association to improve cultural diversity and inclusivity in the community.
It is appropriate, Holmes said, for local businesses to consider how they might exclude parts of the community with events such as tonight’s.
“I’m really not sure who they’re spinning this kind of party to,” she said.
Racial- or stereotypical-themed parties have been criticized in college towns in the past. A Duke University fraternity was suspended from national affiliation two months ago after complaints regarding an Asian-stereotype themed party, according to Time Magazine. The party, originally named “Asia Prime” and then changed to “International Relations,” sparked a 200-student protest against the use of Asian stereotypes.
The party will be at 10 p.m. at Buffalo Pub and Grill.
Sean McMinn and Aryn Sanderson contributed to this staff report.
People need to stop being so sensitive. It’s a themed party that is not meant to exclude anyone from any socio-economic status, race, etc.., nothing! I think the real problem is that people exclude themselves from events like this to cause unnecessary conflict. If you walk into Buffalo, you will see how diverse their clientele really is.. this has nothing to do with prejudice, or excluding anyone in the community; it’s merely an event to bring the community together in a humorous, completely positive, way! My personal opinion is that Holmes should stick to Cal-Poly related issues..like the gay-hating Chick Fil-a on campus. If you had really done your research, you would have seen what an accepting and friendly establishment Buffalo Pub & Grill really is. That’s all.
I for one have never been discriminated or felt like I didn’t belong in Buffalo. Being a gay man in San Luis Obispo, we have very limited business establishments to kick back in and still be ourself. The staff there have always been nice and very welcoming. Some of the guest who decide to join every so often I can not speak for. Though, when this situation does occur, the staff make sure to remove these kind of participants from their business and let them know that they do not tolerate any kind of hate there. Being the “sister bar” of Black Sheep, I can speak for most, saying that Black Sheep is equally as great. Out of the 10 years of living in the area, San Luis Obispo has not once allowed a gay bar in its walls. This city may be populated like a big city, but it thinks like a small town. After getting an answer from the city that they “do NOT want that kind of lifestyle here,” and saying that people can’t dance to music in bars and eating establishments because you have to have a “dancing permit,” makes it seem like they are running this city as if it were a bad rerun of Footloose. With the negativity that San Luis and Cal Poly administrative shove down our throats, Buffalo provides us as an escape. There is nothing wrong with this poster. It’s a costume party, it’s dressing up and having fun. The confederate flag (whether we like it or not) still hangs in houses, yards and even on the back of trucks. That is America. I do not see guns, drugs or any kind of violence promoted in the poster. It’s this generations twisted humor. Our sense of humor differs than of the generation that runs the town. I was born in the south, if anyone should be offended by this picture, it should be me. But I’m not because I know it’s make believe. Lay off of Buffalo, and let them run their own business, and promote their own fun. If you don’t like it, then don’t go.
I think the point was a White Trash party has the potential to offend people and make those that have the traits of “white trash” but who don’t see themselves as trash feel uncomfortable. It is a race based theme that has a negative connotation against poor people, who live in trailer parks, who live in the South, who are unemployed or who have any of the associated stereotypes with White Trash. It is a pejorative term that puts down those who have any of these lifestyles as lower class. San Luis residents should not feel comfortable with businesses in downtown SLO theming parties based on classist slur. As for SLO not allowing a gay bar, I’d like to see an article on THAT!
Every bar in Western New York should have white trash parties. That’s all that lives in America’s Largest Trailor Park.
College students are great at claiming two things over trivial non-issues: 1) an excuse to get tanked and 2) an excuse to whine and act like a victim
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