Europa poster sparks controversy

By Alex Park

Campus Programs informed the student organization Europa early this week that one of the group’s posters was attracting negative attention from certain students and that the group should be more considerate in the future. Senior Europa officials have since deemed the request unfair and unnecessary. The 11 x 17 full-color poster, which promotes tonight’s Eurobeat dance in Kagin, features a bikini-clad woman in a snow-packed environment, posing in a way that extends her midsection revealing the bottom half of her breasts. Information regarding the time and location of the event is also present, as well as the recommended mode of dress.

“The dress code for the dance is ‘stylishly sexy,’ and we thought the poster reflected that,” said Fred Flagstad ’08, who, as co-chair of the Europa organization, is one of the event’s primary organizers. Europa is co-sponsoring the event.

On Monday, Jessy Rosenberg, Associate Director for Campus Programs, cautioned Flagstad and senior members of the Mac DJ Club (Spinners Suite). Rosenberg was unavailable for comment at press time.

The next day, both Stuart Hudson ’08, chair of the DJ Club, and Dan Liu ’08 (who will be performing tonight and also helped to organize the dance) apologized to Campus Programs for the poster and offered to be more considerate in the future. Liu said the apology was necessary because the DJ Club was a co-sponsor and the group wanted to minimize any damage controversy would do for the event’s prospects.

In contrast, Flagstad said he made it clear that Europa would be making no such apology.

“I told [Campus Programs] that while I understood their concerns, I reserved the right to fairly represent European cultural norms,” he said.

As stated in its charter, Europa’s goals are to represent European students at Macalester, and promote European culture to the community at large. Flagstad said that while in the United States, a modest approach to representing sex in event promotions was often taken, the same is not usually true in Europe, where such an image would have been considered normal, even mild.

This is not the first time this year that a dance promotion has featured semi-nudity, however. Toward the end of October, the Program Board issued a poster to be displayed on the table tents in Café Mac advertising the Garden of Eden and the Blend Dance on Nov. 3. Though much smaller than the Eurobeat poster, it did feature an image of a partially naked Program Board member, and was displayed on tables throughout Café Mac for a week.

According to Alissa Buckingham ’08 and
Maria Schirmer ’08, who serve on the Program Board, Campus Programs asked the Program Board to clarify the poster’s stated dress code (which read “come dressed as God intended”) to emphasize that students should not come without clothes on, a message that may have been confused by the poster’s image. However, no complaints regarding the image itself ever emerged, they said.

For his part, Flagstad is upset about what he sees as a double standard.

“If the Program Board puts up a poster featuring a naked person, no one complains; if Europa puts up a poster with a girl in a bikini, they tell us to be considerate. I don’t understand,” he said.

Jenny Grinblo ’11, who designed the poster but is not a Europa member, said that she sees no reason for the organization to change its promotional images now or in the future.

“I honestly accept that some people were genuinely offended, and those people are welcome to look away,” she said via email.