A Senior Stumble T-shirt design for this year was shared Monday on Facebook by senior Wesley Lu. The design consists of a small circular emblem that says “USF 2016 Senior Stumble.” The back of the shirt has the slogan “Make Geary Bars Great Again!” alluding to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign slogan. With the current political climate surrounding Donald Trump and with Senior Stumble being a staple of pre-graduation ceremonies, we found this topic worthy of discussion.
Let’s acknowledge some background about Senior Stumble. It is not a school-affiliated event, but has been a tradition at USF for years and is usually organized by a group of students who choose to take on the task. Senior Stumble itself is a night for soon-to-be graduates to get heavily intoxicated together at bars on Geary Avenue one last time. We also imagine that the people who made this shirt intended to parody Trump’s slogan and that this shirt design was not intended to offend others. The Senior Stumble shirt is intended for a night of discounted drinks and free pizza and is something many graduating seniors look forward to. Most people probably would not wear the shirt again outside of the night when it would get them discounted drinks. We get the joke and that this slogan is meant to be lighthearted.
However, considering that Donald Trump has made disparaging and incredibly dehumanizing comments about people with disabilities, Muslims, refugees, Mexicans, women, and probably a few other groups, it is also rather shortsighted of the designers of the shirt to not be considerate of how this might offend some people. The relationship the slogan has to Donald Trump will surely alienate many students who fall into the groups Trump has managed to make denigrating comments about. Everyone should feel welcome to attend and participate in Senior Stumble, but these shirts estrange many students. Perhaps if there had been a more public, democratic process among senior students in choosing the shirt designs, this would not be as much of an issue as it is now.
Sarah Toutant, president of BSU, expressed her concerns regarding the shirt to the Foghorn: “This is one of the times that I’ve been most disappointed in my peers. I really cannot believe that they thought this was appropriate to make. It’s not funny at all. As a black woman, I don’t find it comical to have my senior stumble shirt resemble one of the most racist and problematic slogans of our current day society. Whoever came up with that idea definitely needs to acknowledge their faults and take responsibility for their negligence.”
An alternate Facebook page titled “Alternative Senior Stumble Shirts” has been created to allow students to participate in Senior Stumble without having to wear a shirt that makes them uncomfortable. Designs are being suggested and students are making an effort to bring about an alternative.
As seniors prepare to graduate and draw a section of their higher education to a close, they should remember to keep some perspective about dealing with people with differing opinions and thoughts. College should teach others on how to deal with diversity of thoughts and ideas. However, this also means we should also maintain a balance of respecting people who may be affected more by the actions and words of people in power (or in Trump’s case, people attempting to come into power).