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.”