EXCLUSIVE: Gonzaga panelist tackles SUICIDE at cultural appropriation event

Gonzaga University in Washington State hosted a Halloween-themed event on Tuesday in which a student leader brought up suicide while advising people on how to pick Halloween costumes.

Gonzaga Queer Student Union President Jeffrey Goong made the comment at a campus event, titled, “My Culture Is Not A Costume” during a conversation regarding the ways in which dressing up as other cultures for Halloween can harm members of those cultures. The university hosted the event as part of a monthly series called “Courageous Conversations.” 

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“If you’re weighing something like comedy over someone’s identity, just like know that when kids like dress up in like a skirt or something that they want to wear for the fun and then they get bullied and then they commit suicide or they hate themselves or they pretend like they don’t want to be something that they’re not, just be like ‘oh wow, is this really a good thing to do?’” Goong said. “Because there are tons of kids who do commit suicide when they get ridiculed at school...just be aware it’s really not funny at all.”

The panel defined cultural appropriation as that which involves a “privileged group misrepresenting and disrespecting marginalized cultures. The originators rarely get credit and always deal with the consequences,” attributing the definition to video blogger, Franchesca Ramsey.

Members from Gonzaga’s Asian American Student Union, La Raza Latina, Queer Student Union, Hawaii Pacific Islanders Club, and the Black Student Union made up the panel.

During one of the panel discussions on cultural appropriation panelists had seen on campus, Jeffrey Goong, president of the Queer Student Union, complained about a cross-dressing party on campus, also mentioning “guys wearing nail polish or like wearing makeup like that stuff is like a huge battle that people have to like wrestle with all the time...and then to have like a whole dorm do it just as a fun thing, it was...a huge slap in the face. Really upsetting, really disappointing.”

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After the panel discussion, audience members addressed questions such as “why is cultural appropriation harmful?” “how is privilege manifested in cultural appropriation?” and “what examples of cultural appreciation have you seen on Gonzaga’s campus?” according to a worksheet obtained by Campus Reform.

Goong did not respond to a request for additional comment in time for publication.

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