The following invitation was posted on Facebook in late April 2008:

Cinco de Mayo Party
Saturday May 3, 2008
2 pm-8 pm
Frat Row, Colby College

Celebrate your Mexican heritage this upcoming Saturday with 10 kegs, BBQ, and a live band… Kegs will be spread throughout Piper, Drummond, Pewi, and the frat row lawn with a live band performing out on the lawn as well.

Tickets are $5 which include: unlimited food, and live music. Tickets can be purchased in Pulver Monday-Thursday of this week from 11am-1:30pm and 5:30-7:30pm.

Over 200 Colby students responded saying they would be attending the party.

In addition, t-shirts for the event were sold in Pulver. The front of the shirts said “Border Patrol” with a picture of Speedy Gonzalez. The back of the shirts was a “danger crossing” sign with a picture of a man, woman, and child running, with the caption “running from the border patrol since 2004.”

This incident resulted in numerous complaints posted on the Digest of Civil Discourse, and a lengthy exchange that lasted for more than a week.

Here are two examples:

Hi,

I was just in the spa and saw the shirts that were made for Cinco de Mayo and to say the least they are extremely offensive. On one side they said “Border Patrol” with a picture of Speedy Gonzalez and on the other it had the sign they put up of a family crossing a highway and saying something along the lines of “running from border patrol since…”

Jeronimo spoke with Campus Life and campus life made them stop selling them. But what should be done so something like this does not happen again? I don’t understand why people don’t see anything wrong with this disrespect of a culture and using it as an excuse to get drunk.

What can we do?

Dell

—————–

Hey all,

I had the distinct pleasure of walking through the Pulver pavilion today to see Cinco de Mayo T-shirts being sold. The front of the T-shirts had the words BORDER PATROL emblazoned on them as well as a picture of “Speedy Gonzalez”, which is a stereotypical “Mexican” cartoon character. The back was of a “danger crossing” sign typically used to alert drivers about potential dangers on the road. The picture in the sign was of a man, woman, and child running. I’m not sure if I’m appropriately describing the shirt, but rest assured that it was extremely offensive and it angered many students, and just goes to show how ignorant and insensitive individuals can be. I went to the office of campus life and they (thankfully) handled the situation well. The t-shirts, to my knowledge, are no longer being sold at the info desk.

I just wanted to bring this to your attention.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

Jeronimo

Students and faculty organized a public rally against racism and in support of diversity and multiculturalism was held on Friday May 2, 2008:

“A group of students will be gathering Friday at 3pm on the Miller steps to rally for real multiculturalism on campus. We are organizing specifically in response to the offending Cinco de Mayo shirts but more broadly in response to the myriad ways in which racism passes for the status quo on this campus.  Every year campus buildings are defaced with racist graffiti, students of color are harassed or ignored and cultural celebrations are co-opted as opportunities to consume copious amounts of alcohol. This racism is so pervasive that it often becomes quietly omnipresent. It is so rampant, that we often lose faith that an alternative will be sought. If you reject racism, if you reject bigotry, if you reject the commodification of culture, it is time to take a stand. We need to be more visible in our objection to racism than the racism itself. This rally is about being just as loud, just as pervasive, just as rampant, just as omnipresent as the racism that exists. It is time to show solidarity in our outrage and seek real manifestations of multiculturalism. If it is more important to you to improve race relations on this campus than it is to drink beer, you belong beside us on the Miller steps on Friday at 3pm and you belong with us in our boycott of Saturday’s Cinco de Mayo party. Boycott these tshirts, boycott this party, boycott racism.”