Discussion of October 25, 2012 Fashion Spotlight

The Colgate Maroon-News Staff

In the world of journalism, we often encounter moments of uncertainty; there are gray areas be-tween what is appropriate and inappropriate content. While we hold the desire to report the truth and create thought provoking dialogue on campus, we must also balance that by choosing what is and isn’t acceptable to print by taking the considerations of the various groups and constituencies at Colgate.

In an article published in the October 25 issue of the Maroon-News, a photo of a student wearing a sweatshirt concealing his face, accompanied by a description of his outfit that included the words “hood-rich” and “expensive ghetto things” were published in the “Fashion Spotlight.” The spotlight is a weekly column in the Arts & Features section of the paper highlighting the diversity of fashions at Colgate. After we received a complaint from a concerned student via email, an angle of racial sensitivity that for the most part went unnoticed during the editing process came to light.

At its best, the content of the newspaper enlightens the community and inspires civil discourse; at its worst it frightens our readers and makes them uncomfortable at our school. It was never the inten-tion of the student interviewed, the writer or any editor involved in the process to present a malicious message to the Colgate community at large. However, our process is not a perfect one, and moments of oversight do occasionally take place. This, unfortunately, is one of those moments. The reality is that this article has genuinely hurt some students on campus. Those who have written or spoken to us in person have heard our heartfelt apologies. To those who have not reached out to us, but had a similar reaction: we extend an apology to you too.

The Maroon-News is committed to not only reporting on but also mediating discussions about issues of race and acts of bias. Parallels have been drawn between the October 18 “bias incident” on the LGBTQ ally doors and the publication of the fashion spotlight column and we are disappointed in recent equation of the two events. Each week we embrace, rather than shy away from, confronting controversial issues and provocative opinions since it is part of our mission as a media organization to promote free speech and to start meaningful conversations. The spotlight was neither anonymous nor threatening, the two characteristics that made the LGBTQ incident so frightening, and our staff not only takes full responsibility for our oversight but is enthusiastic about making amends and educating ourselves to be the best journalists and community members we can be.

We are coming away from this better educated and better equipped to deal with issues of insensitive comments and images than we were before. We have come to understand to a greater degree the nuances and subtleties of what is and isn’t appropriate to print. Since the article was first published, we have taken the necessary steps to learn exactly what went wrong in the process. We are treating this, not just as a lesson in sensitivity, but as a way for we as a community to learn. We have met with the Associate Dean of Mul-ticultural Affairs and the student who originally issued the complaint to understand why the comments made were so hurtful and what we can do to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. We’ve met with Director of the Center for Leaders and Student Involvement to discuss how we as journalists can further educate ourselves in journalism ethics and how to proceed when issues such as this arises again. And, through the letters to the editors published in this week’s paper, we can see the dialogue extend even further. We hope the dialogue about the campus climate will continue both informally and through the newspaper as it is an issue that affects us all. Once again, we apologize to those who were hurt by this article and we look forward to facilitating a civil, productive discussion in the coming weeks.

Contact the Maroon-News at

[email protected].

By Hoa Bui and Kat Kollitides

We were shocked to see the most recent “Fashion Spotlight.” With his hood zipped up all the way and his face masked, the photo accompany-ing the article eerily invoked the Second Ku Klux Klan. While this was most likely not intentional, it still highlights a degree of indiscretion from the Maroon-News staff.

We understand that fashion is a way of expressing one’s personality. Just like many other people have pointed out, “hood-rich” is a style of dress worn by blacks and whites alike. But, as Urban Dictionary so eloquently explains, “hood-rich” is “a person with extravagant luxuries that they clearly cannot afford and they live in the hood or have a hood lifestyle.” So, on a very basic level, this terminology is socioeconomically charged in a negative way. It singles out a community for their low income and allows those with country club backgrounds to exoticize this way of living.

The description that “hood-rich” means “expensive ghetto things” is also ex-tremely offensive. The term “ghetto” is typically used to describe a style of dress or be-havior that doesn’t conform to white middle- and upper-class culture. Those with white privileges seem entitled to use this word in whatever context they like, with no regard for the impact it will have on others.

In the future, we hope the Maroon-News staff will be more thoughtful about choosing which articles they see fit to print.

Contact Hoa Bui at [email protected].

Contact Kat Kollitides at [email protected].

By Suzy M. Nelson

Vice President and Dean of the College

Dear Colgate Community:

As many are aware, during Colgate’s National Coming Out week, posters were defaced with ho-mophobic graffiti and most recently, the Maroon-News published a racially-insensitive photo and inter-view. These actions bewilder, frustrate and hurt, leaving us to ask, “Why does this continue to happen?” Often, these incidents are fueled by unconscious bias and stereotypical thinking, both of which are intellectually debilitating and skew our perspective about differing groups.

Mary Rowe, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, describes these acts as “micro-aggressions” or subtle incidents that devalue people: “Micro-aggressions are apparently small events which are often ephemeral and hard-to-prove, events which are covert, often unintentional, frequently unrecognized by the perpetrator, which occur wherever people are perceived to be different.”

Perpetuating micro-aggressions undermines our ability to develop healthy relationships with each other and creates an unwelcoming environment that can make going to class – or going to work – a struggle. Micro-aggressions deny some folks the respect that we all deserve and erode a sense of civility on our campus.

The good news is that we can change this. We can start by speaking up when we observe denigrating behavior, and we can embrace more affirming behavior: sharing a friendly smile, talking with someone whom we might not know or helping another succeed. A tidal wave of change can swell from subtle acts of kindness and affirmation, and ultimately we can redefine our relationships with each other.

I am grateful to those who have widened the circle on these conversations and promoted increased awareness and understanding. As a result, several positive programs and events have emerged (below). Please join me in furthering these efforts:

Maroon-News Support. In the spring of 2013, the Colgate Student Media Board will be coordinat-ing with many prominent Colgate alumni, faculty, staff and external speakers to provide support and guidance for our student staff in running high quality media organizations.

Black Solidarity Day. Black Solidarity Day was held on Monday, November 5. There was a “Speak Out” in front of the Colgate Chapel followed by a march from HRC to ALANA, culminat-ing with a discussion related to the community of color. This year, the students chose to discuss the National election.

NCBI leadership workshop on diversity, prejudice reduction and skill building, Saturday, Novem-ber 10, 10:00 – 3:00 (lunch provided). Many members have asked, “What can I do to be a better ally?” NCBI is a tremendous resource of trained Colgate faculty, students and staff working together to develop the skills necessary for leadership in the 21st century. Everyone is welcome. Contact Karl Bluemel at kbluemel@colgate for more information and to sign-up.

University Equity and Inclusion Leadership Team. A dedicated staff and faculty team will continue to provide leadership and action in this area, beginning with follow-up on recommendations that were outlined in the 2012 ALANA Report.

Contact Suzy Nelson at [email protected].

By National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI)

To the Colgate community,

The Colgate chapter of the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) would like to provide some thoughts as we consider the recent actions that have affected our community. NCBI is a trained leadership team comprised of faculty, students and staff that provides guidance and helps develop the concrete tools to enhance our diverse community. Our purpose is to help our community heal and take action, and several principles guide our work:

Welcoming diversity means every person counts and every issue counts.

At the root of every oppressive comment lies some form of pain.

One-to-one relationship building is at the heart of effective intergroup coalitions.

People can take on tough issues more readily when the issues are presented in a spirit of hope.

Being an ally to another group requires us to heal the negative messages we have internalized about our own group.

For many members of our Colgate community, the recent overt hate speech towards the LGBTQ community and last week’s Maroon-News “Fashion Spotlight” marginalized and reduced many students, faculty and staff members’ sense of acceptance at Colgate. A few scribbled phrases on a door or a picture and caption that too quickly calls up images and language from the KKK are as harmful as someone screaming face-to-face, “Get out! You don’t belong here” to people in our community. The juxtaposition of support towards the LGBTQ community just a few short printed pages away from the image of a hooded student sporting “expensive ghetto things” demonstrates we, as a community, have a ways to go.

We all need to be aware of our biases. We all have moments we’d like to take back, think through or deep down still don’t truly understand even when we know our actions hurt someone else. Biases are part of being human, and part of being a product of the cultures from which each of us come. Colgate embraces the value of diversity and all of the richness that each member of the community brings with them. Although diverse communities are challenging by design, it is the responsibility of every one of us to explore our biases to understand their impacts and learn more from one another.

Maybe these specific bias instances hit home for you or maybe you don’t feel targeted as a member of the communities they affected. However they affect you personally, bias incidents provide the opportunity to remember that both individually and collectively, we create our community by our actions, words and behavior. We are all accountable for our actions and we are all accountable for what happens in our community.

Colgate’s chapter of NCBI is committed to creating a community that digs deeply into who we are collectively, and finding commonalities under which we can support each other. For us, it is acknowledging that every person and every issue matters. Stop, think and real-ize that what you do today affects others. You can create or take away someone else’s sense of being a full member of our Colgate community.


The Colgate NCBI Team; Kelsie Anson ’13; Karen Austin, Administrative Assistant, Sociology and An-thropology; April Baptiste, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies; Billy Barkhausen ’13; Ryan Bennett, Associate Director of Residential Marketing and Technology; Jamie Bergeron, Assistant Director of LGBTQ Ini-tiatives and CLSI; Karl Bluemel, Assistant Director of Residential Life; Amy Brown ’13; Scott Brown, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students; Linh Bui ’14; Kristi Carey ’15; Vicky Chun, Interim Athletic Director; Instructor in Physical Education; Rachel DiDomizio, Associate Director of Max Shacknai COVE; Bill Fergu-son, Director of Campus Safety; Lamont Fields, Career Advisor; Kimmie Garner, Women’s Studies Program Assistant; Frank Gavett, Associate Professor in the University Libraries; Head of Public Services; Ann-Marie Guglieri, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Internal Operations/SWA; Che Hatter ’13; Aurelius Henderson, Assistant Dean for Administrative Advising; Helene Julien, Associate Professor of French and Women’s Studies; Academic Director of OUS; Lily Kim ’15; Debbie Krahmer, Assistant Professor in the University Libraries; Learning Commons Librarian; Dawn LaFrance, Associate Director of Counseling and Psychological Services; Meika Loe, Associate Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies, Interim Director of LGBTQ Program; Direc-tor of Women’s Studies; Sue Marks, Administrative Assistant, Campus Safety; Linda Maynard, Staff Nurse; Melissa Melendez ’14; Suzie Meres, Business Manager, Greek Letters Operations; Teresa Olsen, Director of Op-erations and Strategic Planning, Career Services; Shaterra Redd, OUS Program Coordinator; Claudia Servadio- Coyne, Manager Student Technology Resource Group; Yellow Shabazz ’13; Mark Shiner, University Chaplain and Catholic Campus Minister ; Kim Taylor, Associate Dean for Conduct; Mark Thompson, Director of Coun-seling and Psychological Services; Maura Tumulty, Associate Professor of Philosophy; Jennifer Viera ’13; Jung Yi, Staff Psychologist.

Website Comments

Below are the comments left in on the web version of the Fashion Spotlight Column in the order they were posted.

Fri Oct 26 2012 00:49

WTF Is hood-rich please let me know I don’t understand what that is or why it is okay.

Fri Oct 26 2012 00:53

Also, does this imply that BBC is hood-rich because a rapper made it? Does a person and automatically his/her products deemed as “ghetto” because he is a rapper? What are u saying about the larger rap community as a whole? Those who support and a part of it?

And here goes another example of white privilege where white males can easily pick and choose what “stereotypical” elements of a given culture they want to exhibit and further can drop those same elements at any given moment. This is disgusting.

Fri Oct 26 2012 00:57

Let’s also discuss how Japan’s fashion icon Nigo, not some individual who produces expensive ghetto things, has helped produce and create this line. Please get your facts straight.

What is a expensive ghetto thing. Because this line has been considered and deemed in some instances high fashion. But oh, because people of color, not some white individual, created the line it is hood rich?

Fri Oct 26 2012 13:24

This is pretty priceless

Fri Oct 26 2012 13:35

how do you have any idea this student is white? or even a male for that matter? another example of someone jumping to conclusions and attempting to generate controversy where there is none. thanks for a good read rachel.

Fri Oct 26 2012 13:36

People are definitely being way too sensitive. I’m pretty sure everything that was said was a joke. This is a funny write up, and nothing more.

Fri Oct 26 2012 21:38

Well gee, maybe we know he is a white male because we’ve seen/know him in real life.

Also. I’m glad the way he wears this article of clothing is so suggestive of KKK hoodies in the past. It’s a real heart warming memory of such a great time in American history. That’s what we’re going for, isn’t it?

Forget the style, let’s consider the practicality of wearing this hoodie zipped all the way up. Perhaps he should try to walk around campus with it zipped up? Not like it’s dangerous or anything.

Sat Oct 27 2012 09:04

I’m tired of the racial sensitivity that some of Colgate’s black students continue to cling to when they feel attacked. “White people again get to appropriate what aspects of black culture they want to use just another way to exert white privilege” said one hilarious student. Does not everyone get to appropriate what aspects of any culture they want to use? Can a black student not also appropriate the aspects of “white” culture that they want? You defining the differences between “black” culture and a “white” culture propagates the idea that there are essential differences that exist between these cultures. You’re not helping anyone by stating that they cannot talk or about or be associated things that are only for blacks because it is there culture. By the standard you are placing all of Colgate’s minorities must be placed in boxes. Are you shaming all blacks that wear Patagonia? I feel that they are trying to take ownership of “white” culture by joining Greek life and wearing Sparries. Also, stop learning 10 hot button words in Soc class and bringing them out when you feel that you are being attacked by the system. Minority students will continue to give white students power when they get offended by silly things like this and the use of words. Political correctness is so funny.

Sat Oct 27 2012 10:07

Ok “AnonymousStudentofColor,” there are people of color who will judge you for wearing Patagonia, and people of color who won’t. But that’s not really the issue here. The issue is that a white male can laugh off wearing a “hood-rich” sweatshirt There’s nothing inherently wrong with using different cultures to influence your style, and nothing inherently wrong with changing your style over time (honestly, you’d probably be pretty boring if you didn’t). However, some of the language he used was a bit insensitive to the fear and discrimination that people of color are likely to face ESPECIALLY when they wear a hoodie. I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone that a hoodie made Trayvon Martin look “suspicious” enough to get shot. So, yeah, people have a right to be angry when someone with the benefit of white privilege laughs about “expensive ghetto things” without understanding that his words might be hurtful. However, I also doubt very much that this student had any sort of cruel intentions, which should also be taken into account. Maybe, for once, we could all just learn something from this rather than get defensive and bicker over the internet.