It pains us to read an article titled “Racism at Relay for Life.” We agree that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so now we would like to share ours regarding what happened at Relay For Life and the letter it inspired.
For those not familiar with Relay For Life, it is the single largest fundraiser hosted by any of the 17 CUNY schools. All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society to fund cancer research programs.
Relay is a 15-hour overnight event that takes months of organizing and planning and is hosted at Baruch College every spring. Since the first Relay For Life at Baruch College eight years ago, the Baruch Community has raised over $575,000.
This year, the Planning Committee set a new goal for itself: to reach $100,000, which would surpass last year’s record of just over $86,000.
In an effort to ensure the events success the committee worked tirelessly to incorporate new activities, along with past favorites, into the event schedule. And while the event schedule ran smoothly, there were some unfortunate rough spots throughout the night.
Problems began before the event even started. While the committee was able to secure four student emcees the week before Relay, two were forced to cancel the night before for personal reasons. We would like to emphasize that this is in no way a fault of the students that were forced to cancel.
As such, it came as a relief to some committee members to find out that Selvin Lowe would be attending Relay to help out with the events.
Selvin actually arrived on campus at midnight, after a full day’s work at his new job. As with previous Relays, he emceed the dodge ball and basketball tournaments.
Selvin is an avid supporter of Relay and volunteered his free time to emcee these events because it is something he has enjoyed doing in the past.
While we appreciate Selvin’s support, we do not in any way stand by the offending statements he had made during the dodge ball and basketball tournaments.
First off, we do applaud the former Baruch club leader and student at who the racial slurs were directed for keeping his head up and continuing to compete in the dodge ball tournament.
What the author or the original letter failed to mention was that as soon as “the people in charge” were made aware of the situation, they apologized to several students who were offended by Selvin’s comments, including the alumnus at whom the comments were directed.
Following the incident, the alumnus actually thanked us for approaching him, but not because he was offended, but because he thought it was actually unnecessary for us to apologize. He believed the comment wasn’t a serious offense and did not hold us at fault for the emcee’s behavior.
The author also failed to mention that “the people in charge” even apologized to her, recognizing the seriousness of the comment made.
Another omission made by the author was the fact that she was not present for any of the comments made or for the supposedly “halfhearted” apology.
Does this mean “the people in charge” were okay with what our emcee said? The answer is: absolutely not! Selvin was not removed from the situation, however, due to a lack of emcees, among other reasons.
Although some people claim that there were other available emcees, these supposed emcees do not corroborate this claim.
“The people in charge” did the best that they could on such short notice, but were not able to find a replacement.
Another reason we did not remove Selvin from the situation was because no one else present would have been able to control and energize the crowd of 200 students that were in the Auxiliary Gym alone.
“The people in charge” did the best that they could on such short notice, but were not able to find a suitable replacement.
The Relay For Life Planning Committee had already discussed Selvin’s behavior and his removal from future events prior to the published opinions piece. The Planning Committee fully recognizes his support in past years and his commitment to Relay for Life, but we also recognize the importance of our student body.
There is no Relay without you – our friends, classmates and professors – and we want you to know that all of your support is greatly appreciated.
In regards to the comments made towards female students, the committee did not witness any of these exchanges and cannot speak to their accuracy or implications. However, we can state that we do not believe in the objectification or harassment of any individuals.
Lastly, we do not believe that the Jeremy Lin comments made during the basketball tournament were appropriate either. However, unlike the “Osama” comments, the Lin comments were not booed or objected to by any of the spectators or players.
A student of the same descent as Jeremy Lin even suggested,“the Lin references weren't meant to be seen negatively. I think those fraternity boys should be honored to be compared with J Lin.”
For those of you who don’t know, Lin is one of the few Asian Americans in NBA history, and the first American player in the league to be of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. Again, this does not mean that we support the Lin statements that were made.
The point of this piece was not to justify our actions or Selvin’s actions, but to share our side of what happened. It is disappointing that the good work of our Planning Committee is being overshadowed by this incident.We express our deep regret over what occurred at Relay For Life and have taken preventive measures to ensure that it will never happen again.
We hope that the student body will understand that we do not support the offending comments and have only worked to better our community and the lives of those who have been affected by cancer.
It is unfortunate that we were forced to deal with such a situation, but we want the focus to remain on the mission of Relay For Life: to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.