In a quick succession of events, Mudd Goes Madd, a Sept. 26 party hosted by North Dorm at Harvey Mudd College, went through a series of changes that nearly led to it changing from a 5C to a 4C event.
After the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) budget committee decided to deny funding for the party, the organizers announced that Pomona College students would not be permitted to attend the event without being registered as guests. In a Sept. 25 Facebook post, event organizers said that their top priority was “respecting the views of the Pomona student body.”
However, backlash against ASPC and the organizers themselves quickly followed this decision, and the party was reinstated as a 5C event later that day.
ASPC gave two reasons for their decision to deny funding to the party. First, the ASPC claimed that the safety improvements the organizers employed did not address major safety concerns from previous years. Second, given the connotations of the word ‘madd,’ ASPC felt that mental health and disability communities should have been consulted before the organizers made the decision to the word in the name of the event.
The second reason received backlash from many students; Facebook comments appeared within minutes criticizing ASPC. Nico Kass PO ’16, ASPC President, said that misinformation among students led to an incomplete understanding of ASPC’s concerns.
“Initially it was not an issue with the name, it was an issue with not talking to the communities that the name could alienate,” said Samuel Crawford PO ’16, ASPC vice president of campus events.
According to members of the ASPC budgetary committee, the party’s organizers did not consult with either the Mental Health Alliance or the Disability, Illness, and Difference Alliance before choosing a name for their event. These groups could not be reached for comment.
“That was unacceptable—you can’t exclude a community from a conversation that deals with their safety,” Kass said. “Some students from mental health and disability communities did not feel affected by this—and that’s okay. But there are undoubtedly students on this campus that feel unsafe around this language.”
Some students, however, criticized ASPC’s decision as an unnecessarily dramatic reaction.
“You can’t remove all micro-aggressions at one time,” Genevieve Donahey CM ’16 said. “You can’t start by attacking every single little thing, you have to start with the big picture.”
ASPC also expressed concern about the party’s safety, given that Foam, an annual HMC party, was discontinued this year because of safety concerns. When Mudd Goes Madd was touted as a replacement for Foam, student safety became a key concern for ASPC. According to Kass, the only changes the organizers informed the committee about were to the nature of the party and certain alcohol policies regarding HMC students.
North Dorm at Harvey Mudd College hosted Mudd Goes Madd.
Nathan Justin HM ’19, a resident of North Dorm who helped set up the event, said that the event organizers took efforts to prevent sexual assault at the party, including putting up posters about consent.
“This year we tried to make changes, but I don’t think the ASPC really saw that those changes actually would happen,” Justin said.
Director of Campus Safety Stan Skipworth said that he was not aware of any safety-related calls on the night of the party.
“It was like every other party, except that we were covered in paint,” Eric Contee II HM ’19 said. “It didn’t seem any more dangerous.”
Kass and Crawford both recognized that there may have been more changes to the party’s structure than they were aware of. However, ASPC stands behind its decision to deny funding for the event.
“There are a lot of issues on campus right now, and one of those is not whether you can attend a paint party,” Crawford said. “For us to have our largest student outcry because of this is pretty disheartening.”