An Oxford college has been accused of cultural appropriation after attempting to throw a ‘cannabis themed party’.
Mansfield College was forced to cancel the ‘420 themed’ party – scheduled to take place this Friday, April 20 – after students complained.
In an email to students, organisers reportedly said the party would be a celebration of the ‘internationally recognised day of protest for the legalisation of Marijuana’.
They invited students to ‘dress up as their favourite stoner’ and wrote: ‘420 is not about the consumption of da herb itself, and more about the arts, music, and literature surrounding it; it’s a celebration of a rich culture including everything from hippies to Hip-Hop, from Seth Rogan to the Dude.’
They also warned: ‘If you’re white, don’t try to go as Snoop Dogg or Bob Marley. Blackface isn’t cool.’
Along with the invite, they emphasised that they do not condone the use of drugs. Regardless of the warnings, the invite sparked backlash from students who said they felt the event encouraged ‘cultural appropriation’.
An undergraduate said the college’s welfare representatives were concerned the event could be exclusionary.
They told The Daily Telegraph: ‘Anyone who might have negative experiences of drugs or addiction might be affected by it.
‘There are of course risks related to the theme that people might have come in costumes which might have perceived as offensive.
‘Fundamentally people were concerned about the inappropriate nature of a drug themed bop in a college both from a welfare perspective.’
Just hours after the complaints were heard, the organisers sent round an email cancelling the event and apologised to anyone they offended.
They said: ‘We understand that this was met with offence and we want to apologise dearly to those who were offended.’
‘We overlooked the clear issues with this theme and now realise our very significant mistake in the matter.
We can’t apologise enough.’ ‘And clearly nor did we expect any members of the College to be dressing in a manner so as to be culturally appropriating any culture.’