Earlier today, the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) voted against funding a 5C party called “Mudd Goes Madd” due to the name’s trivialization of mental health issues. The event description on Facebook states:
“Join your favorite Madd scientists as we get down and dirty with paint for North’s first 5C party of the year! Get covered in gallons of fluorescent (but washable!) paint on September 26th at North Dorm!”
Though seemingly similar to other parties Mudd has hosted in the past (such as “Foam,” which will not be taking place this year), the ASPC committee opposed funding Mudd Goes Madd, which would prevent Pomona students from being able to attend the event.
One of the hosts for the event, Elise Cassella (HMC ’18) released the following statement she received from ASPC regarding its decision:
“The committee has decided against funding your event due to the following reasons:
After asking what improvements Mudd North Dorm would make in terms of making one of the first major 5c events of the year safer than previous year, [sic] the answer provided addressed none of the primary concerns, such as crowd control, atmosphere, and security.
We are disappointed at your choice of the name for the event, as well as your rationale for allowing the name ‘Mudd Goes Madd.’ Your disregard of the concerns of the mental health community and their allies trivializes the issues that we deem extremely important to our community. Further, the exclusion of the mental health community in the discussion of allowing the event name is inappropriate.”
ASPC President Nico Kass (PO ’16) also released a statement to justify ASPC’s opposition to funding Mudd Goes Madd:
“On behalf of ASPC Senate, I would like to explain the rationale behind our decision to not fund this event. Most importantly, not only do we believe the name trivializes mental health and disability issues, but despite students’ repeated expression of hurt due to the party name in the past, the event organizers decided to exclude them from the conversation and dismiss their concerns as unimportant.”
ASPC’s precaution against using the term “Madd” in order to protect students with mental health issues did not resonate well with students, including those with mental illnesses. Some of these students expressed concerns that ASPC was patronizing them. “As a guy on the autism spectrum,” responded one anonymous CMC student, “ASPC’s reasoning is less than helpful. ASD is a very serious issue, but treating me like I’m five years old and trying to protect me from every possible trigger doesn’t prepare me for the real world.”
Similarly, another 5C student, who requested anonymity, stated, “I am actually bipolar and I am offended that people infantilize the whole issue of mental illness by suggesting we should be protected from anything that could damage our ‘fragile’ psyches.”
Jeffrey Allen (PO ’17) had another theory for ASPC’s reasoning to defund the event. “I may be overestimating the ability of Pomona students to behave rationally around anything related to political correctness, but I seriously doubt this has anything to do with the name and has everything to do with ASPC not wanting to spend money. If that is the case, using social justice as a cover for an unpopular decision is truly despicable.”
In response to the outpouring of opposition, Mudd Goes Madd ultimately decided to open its doors to Pomona students despite the lack of funding. Casella stated, “In light of all the responses we’ve received and observed, we’ve decided to make the party 5C and allow every 5C student to attend. We just want everyone to be safe and have a good time tomorrow night. The party will proceed as initially intended and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to any of the hosts.”
Mudd Goes Madd will take place tomorrow night from 9:00pm to 1:00am at North Dorm.
Update: September 25, 2015
Elise Casella confirmed that “Mudd Goes Madd” has never been used as a party name in the past, contrary to Nico Kass’ statement.
Update: September 26, 2015
When ASPC made its decision to not fund, it was not aware that it would prevent Pomona College students from attending the event. 5C parties do not have to be funded by all the colleges for their students to attend.
Update: September 29, 2015
In 2010, Harvey Mudd College planned a party with the “Mudd Goes Madd” name. http://cmcforum.com/news/02052010-mudd-prepares-for-maddness
Update: September 30, 2015
Elise Casella clarified that “Mudd Goes Madd” was not an event last year, but it has been used as a party name in the past.
Image Source: Flickr