Student Government member’s costume sparks debate

Photo credit: THIS MATTERS

By Bailey Brammer | Staff Writer

A cabinet member of Baylor student government is no longer a part of the organization after posting a photo on Instagram over Halloween weekend that promoted a negative stereotype of Hispanic and Latino culture.

Student government sent an email Friday to the student body with the message that students should be mindful of Halloween costumes that unfavorably depict other cultures.

The Instagram post depicted two women dressed as police officers on either side of a man who was wearing a sombrero, a fake mustache and a Serape. One of the women was pictured holding a fake gun, and the other was shown handcuffing the man. The caption beneath the photo read, “Border patrol got one last night… #notpoliticallycorrect.” The location of the photo was tagged as the Texas/Mexico Border, and the post has since been taken down.

On Thursday afternoon, Port Barre, La., senior Lindsey Bacque, student government president, released as tatement regrading the former member’s social media post, affirming their commitment to cultural sensitivity.

“This matter was addressed within our stated procedures, and the individual is no longer serving as a member of Student Government,” Bacque said. “We recognize the opportunities afforded to us as student leaders at Baylor University come with the responsibility to lead within the values we espouse – to care and respect all students.”

According to the Baylor University Student Body Constitution, the Student Senate has the ability to remove a member of student government after a hearing held before the Senate and a two-thirds vote for removal. Bacque declined to comment further or confirm whether the student was dismissed or stepped down.

On Tuesday evening, Bacque met with Houston junior Damian Moncada, president of the Hispanic Students Association, to discuss the Instagram post.

“Lindsey wanted to make me aware that this was happening because I have the responsibility of leading Hispanic and Latino students,” Moncada said. “I’ve seen this happen before, and I wouldn’t say that I would expect it, but there’s a certain culture that we have here at Baylor that doesn’t necessarily align with multicultural values.”

Moncada said that when he initially heard about the post, his reaction was that of forgiveness due to Baylor’s mission to be a caring, Christian community.

“We are a Christian university. We were charted and founded on Baptist values and ideals,” Moncada said. “We solve these issues by educating people, and after educating people, we develop a conversation, and after a conversation is developed, we advocate.”

Moncada said he believes the student who posted the photo does not deserve to be harassed. He said the remedy to incidents like this can be planning events to enlighten the student body of why posting about another culture in a negative way is hurtful.

“Harassing someone is not the way to solve this issue,” Moncada said. “If we look at the picture, we see handcuffs, we see a gun, we see border patrol… If Baylor doesn’t react to that instance, even though it was off-campus, we can be in great trouble, especially as a community, because we don’t feel like we belong.”

For McAllen senior Yoonki Na, chair of the Baylor Coalition of Asian Students, the most upsetting aspect of the Instagram post was not the lack of sensitivity toward minorities, but the caption and location of the photo.

“I’m from a border town, and so it’s very personal for me because I was raised in that environment,” Na said. “It’s shocking because a person in charge made a mistake, and it happened because people are unaware and uneducated in the matter of social injustice and minorities’ issues.”

After seeing the success of Baylor’s black and Asian coalitions, the Hispanic and Latino community decided to begin their own. Moncada said that while this idea was not sparked by the Instagram post, it has become a catalyst to finally get the coalition up and running.

“We’re forming the coalition to address and improve the community,” Moncada said. “We are trying to develop solutions that will benefit everyone. Not just Latinos, not just minorities but all Baylor students, even faculty and staff. This is something that will affect everyone in a positive manner.”