About 100 protesters at the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) held a sit-in last Friday to oppose a student-led Cinco De Mayo drinking party, where people were encouraged to “dress festively as Border Patrol agents or in stereotypical Mexican clothing. Chanting “UC Davis isn’t safe,” the protesters marched to the campus Coffee House where some student organizers of the “Cinco de Drinko Sloshball” event worked.
Michelle Villegas, a UC Davis alumnus who pushed to stop the event, said that Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that “marks and celebrates the victory over French rule that was momentous for the state of Puebla, Mexico.”
“This holiday is often manipulated by individuals who use inaccurate images of Mexican culture and affiliate it strongly with alcoholic consumption, despite the fact that there is no real correlation between the two,” Villegas added.
Touted as a “big kegger event,” local NBC affiliate KCRA said that people who wore sombreros, ponchos, and fake mustaches would be “chased by other students dressed up as Border Patrol agents.” According to the Sacramento Bee, “the Facebook event page for Cinco de Drinko included a picture of four male students, wearing sombreros, trying to hop a chain-link fence while two female students in Border Patrol attire smile.” After organizers cancelled the party on Friday, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi suggested that the event may likely spawn a mandatory diversity course. Dr. Adela de la Torre, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs added that “Student Affairs staff will be working directly with the students who organized this event to heighten their cultural sensitivity and understanding of the impact of their actions.”
Last November, University of Texas-Austin students planned an event known as the “Catch an Illegal Immigrant game” with a similar premise — students had to seek out the “illegal immigrants” on campus for a chance to win a gift card. That event was also cancelled and prompted a large gathering of protesters.
A Facebook protest page and a Socialist Worker blog interview both indicated that Coffee House employees held an annual event last month called “Holyland” where at least one person dressed up as a “jihadist” and wore “dynamite around his neck.” A protest petition reported that UC Davis students previously held other racially-insensitive Cinco De Mayo-themed drinking parties in 2012 and in 2013. About 28.8 percent of admitted students of UC Davis’ 2014 admitted student population identify as Latinos.