Discarded peel cruelly unnerves school’s student leaders

It’s a cliché as old, it would seem, as humanity: Each generation feels the one that follows isn’t doing its bit to uphold civilization.

That, of course, is questionable, as society has ebbed and flowed over the millennia. However, we would seem to be on a downward swing at present.

Consider: A randomly discarded banana peel at a University of Mississippi weekend event “designed to build leaders” resulted in “tears and frustration” as organizers “didn’t feel safe.”

Yes, Ole Miss Greek Life leaders cut short a three-day leadership retreat the weekend before last after black students discovered a banana peel dangling in a tree outside of one of the camp’s cabins.

“And then of course came the inevitable university action plans, flurry of letters exchanged, and sensitivity meetings,” the blog Zero Hedge reported. “Bleary-eyed and shaken students had to text friends and family to come pick them up early (sounds like Kindergarten carpool pick-up time).”

The banana peel was later spotted by Alpha Kappa Alpha President, Makala McNeil, a leader from one of the campus’s historically black sororities.

The Daily Mississippian, the campus newspaper, reported that McNeil had just left a group discussion about race relations when she spotted the banana peel in the tree.

“The overall tone [of the meeting] was heavy,” McNeil told the newspaper. “I mean, we were talking about race in Mississippi and in the Greek community so there’s a lot involved.”

She added that she and her friends were “all just sort of paranoid for a second” after noticing the banana peel, calling its appearance “so strange and surreal.”

The culprit turned out to be senior accounting major Ryan Swanson, who said he put the banana peel in the tree when he could not find a trash can nearby.

“Although unintentional, there is no excuse for the pain that was caused to members of our community,” Swanson said, in a response that would seem to have been taken from the transcript of a 1930’s Soviet show trial. “I have much to learn and look forward to doing such and encourage all members of our community to do the same.”

An open forum was held after news of the banana peel had spread throughout the camp.

“As the staff member responsible for the wellbeing of our community, I felt it was imperative to provide space immediately to students affected by this incident to allow them an opportunity to voice their pain and concern,” Alexa Lee Arndt, interim director of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Ole Miss told the campus newspaper.

After the open forum, Greek Life leaders decided to cancel the remainder of the weekend.

In a letter obtained by The Daily Mississippian, Arndt was quoted as saying that “members of our community were hurt, frightened, and upset by what occurred.”

“Because of the underlying reality many students of color endure on a daily basis, the conversation manifested into a larger conversation about race relations today at the University of Mississippi,” Arndt reportedly added.

Another sorority president reportedly told the newspaper that the incident was especially painful, because “bananas have historically been used to demean black people.”

The newspaper reported that many of the students left the retreat “in tears.”

As one columnist opined on the matter, “This idiot country is losing its damn mind. Our universities are training students to be total neurotics. If you are an actual adult who wails and gnashes her teeth at the sight of a banana peel, you ought to question whether you are mature enough for college.”

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18 thoughts on “Discarded peel cruelly unnerves school’s student leaders

      • Cotton Boll,
        I have to laugh or I would cry. How sad that people would channel their enormous collective energy into such trivialities. I’ve never heard of bananas being associated with racism. Watermelons, maybe, but I guess you’d have to exert some effort to make a watermelon rind hang from a branch.

      • I am familiar with neanderthals taunting black athletes by throwing or waving bananas at them. However, this is a far cry from that – about as far as you can get. An inert peel was on a tree; a lazy student admitted his simply put it there because he couldn’t find a garbage can; apologizes were handed out ad nauseum, yet everyone still left early, many upset and in tears. In 70 years we’ve gone from the Greatest Generation to the Most Aggrieved Generation.

  1. I know that bananas and potatoes were thrown by some spectators at African/Black or Irish players during football matches in Britain right up to the 1990s but a discarded banana peel left on a tree in a college campus?

    I suppose it reflects the hurt and suspicion felt by some African-Americans in the contemporary US that even innocent stuff can be misinterpreted to such a wild degree.

    • Yes, this has happened in the past, but the reaction to a nonevent leaves one wondering how these individuals will react when faced with real calamities. Running to safe spaces and making hearts by placing one’s hands together aren’t options when lives are on the line.

      I told my daughters – all in high school – that if any of them ever pulled something like this in college I would immediately yank them out of school and find them blue collar jobs, where they can learn what the real world is like.

  2. How privileged to be able to be upset by a banana peel and what a wimp the chap who apologised.
    Somewhere there is a spoof recording of the Rev Iain Paisley ordering his groceries, with rising hysteria as all of them prove to be green. the Fenian colour.
    You did not need trigger warnings for the Rev Iain, though you might have done for audiences outside Northern Ireland.

    • I am increasingly torn about what my four youngest children, who are all in high school, will be subjected to at college. I’m almost glad I don’t have the money to pay for their post-secondary education; can you imagine shelling out your hard-earned money and having your progeny return being utterly emasculated or a shrill neurotic harpy?

      And when stuff like this happens in Mississippi, imagine what the atmosphere is like in the Ivy Leagues and on the West Coast.

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