Musical Madness, an annual philanthropy where teams of student organizations perform skits, has always been a funny, creative and enjoyable experience for students and in recent years, Road Trippers. Many of the skits this year, written by teams of student organizations matched with one another, included references to the overwhelming squirrel population, UE’s relationship with its cross-town rival, USI, and students’ feelings about Sodexo, which always find its way into at least a skit or two.
The event also introduces prospective students to life at UE. This light-hearted event always has a theme and this year it was “Goes Back to School,” centering on high school movies. The skits included music, dancing and humorous dialogue, all meant to entertain.
The number of teams each year varies, but normally the Greek organizations participate as well as a smattering of other groups. Student Publications was even paired with Sigma Phi Epsilon and Zeta Tau Alpha in 2015. Those who attended this year seemed to enjoy the skits and of course, just like most years, some skits were better than others. But this year, there seemed to be something new.
A certain team decided it was a good time to publicly share their negative feelings about Crescent Magazine. It made fun of various aspects of the magazine and ripped up a number of copies as a way to highlight the theme of their skit. A team member even asked a member of our staff beforehand if she could have extra copies of the magazine for the show. Not knowing what her team had in mind, it was not a problem for us to share some extras.
Every student group has something they specialize in and are known for — which can be anything from an academic interest and sports, to community service and social interests. Each group also works hard to achieve its goals and is proud of the results. What the team ridiculing the Crescent did not take into account was the hard work the students who work for the magazine put into the publication. The skit was cruel, mean and painful for staff members to watch and for some staff’s friends. By doing what the team did they were essentially destroying — in words and actions — our work.
We were told by a university official that there is a fine line between satire and disrespect. But more than that, there is a fine line between satire and sarcasm. Satire is the constructive use of humor. It is mature and intelligent.
Sarcasm is comments mixed with ridicule, is inconsiderate and used to intentionally put someone or something down. Poking fun at the magazine’s content, what is popular and what is not, is not what we objected to, although the people who have been nice enough to allow us to profile them or have served as sources for stories may disagree.
The problem is ridiculing the students who work for the magazine and destroying copies of the magazine in front of others, including prospective students, in an attempt to be funny. Those things weren’t necessary. We ask you this — would you vandalize someone’s art work? Deface a Greek organization’s letters? Destroy someone’s research? Heckle a student organization’s performance?
Every organization’s work is worthy of respect because your peers put time and effort into what they do. While some organizations are more prestigious or have more members, they still should not be demeaned — publicly or otherwise. Madness is a fine example of how organizations can work together even if they do not have common goals.
Situations like the one presented often make people uncomfortable, even though most may smile and laugh them off. This does not make the jokes any less painful. It might have also changed how people view the magazine — or the organizations that thought they were being funny but weren’t.
No student organization should be bashing another, especially during Road Trip, a time when we are presenting UE to prospective students. It makes organizations look bad and it unbalances student life as a whole. Some organizations may not be your cup of tea, but you don’t need to bash them because of it.
Student organizations are meant to help lessen the stress that comes with student life. Causing unnecessary problems adds more work than students should have to deal with. And since we see each other every day, we do not need bashing to become a habit.
We know that Madness scripts are reviewed by the student directors and the Center for Student Engagement. We’re not sure where the disconnect occurred — whether the team in question pulled a fast one once on stage or those who read the scripts and viewed rehearsals didn’t see anything wrong with it. But something went wrong. The hurtful dialogue and actions still made it to the stage. We do know this.
If a Greek organization had been on the receiving end of ridicule like this, it would have been caught and removed from the skit. UE is not perfect and student organizations are not either, but as a magazine we take pride in our work just like everyone else. All student organizations exist to help students and to provide community. This supports student growth, and public bashing does not allow for much growth, but rather friction between groups.
To those student groups and teams who were intelligent in their scriptwriting and cleaver in their performances, we applaud you. But to RSA, Delta Omega Zeta and Sig Ep, remember this childhood lesson — treat others the way you want to be treated.
Every group has its negatives and positives. We hope that no organization’s work and aspirations are ever put on display in a negative way in front of hundreds of people like ours was. Unfortunately, we live in a society today that almost encourages people to bash others and not fear the consequences. Instead, let’s take the high road. Let’s show respect for one another.