Oxford students have been forced to apologise after organising a cannabis-themed dance which appeared to celebrate drug use.
The youngsters, at Mansfield College, wanted to hold a traditional ‘bop’ to mark 20th April - an international ‘day of protest’ for the legalisation of marijuana.
They said the party, originally scheduled for this Friday, would focus on the ‘arts, music, and literature’ around ‘da herb’ and celebrate its ‘rich culture’.
The organisers are a group of students making up the college ‘entertainment team’ - known as ‘Entz’ - and are responsible for making arrangements for social events.
But the plan was met with disbelief from other students who said it could encourage illegal drug use and might be offensive to other cultures.
In an email published by student newspaper Cherwell, the organisers outlined plans for the bop to coincide with ‘a very, very, special day of the year: April 20th aka 420, the internationally-recognised day of protest for the legalisation of marijuana.’
The email read: ‘420 is not about the consumption of da herb itself, and more about the arts, music, and literature surrounding it; it’s a celebration of a rich culture including everything from hippies to Hip-Hop.’
Students took to Mansfield college’s Facebook group to criticise the organisers.
One said: ‘Sorry I think the Entz don’t get April fools, is this an actual joke?? Because there are SO many aspects of the email that we all just received that are deeply wrong and squirm inducing [sic].’
Another said: ‘I’m genuinely working on the assumption that the Entz email has been hacked.’
Others said the event was offensive because it was encouraging students to ‘appropriate’ other cultures and could therefore be seen as offensive.
The email encouraged ‘all you (plant) pot-heads out there’ to ‘dress as stoner icons like Snoop Dogg, Todd from BoJack, Shaggy from Scooby Doo, Harold and Kumar - or even the Super Troopers.’
It continued: ‘Still stuck for ideas? Get creative with puns. “Ganjalf”. “The Grim Reefer”. A “baked” potato. “Ganja Claus”.
‘Make a “blunt” statement by just dressing in all green. Don’t forget, there’s always the classic “I was going to find a costume for the bop, but then I got high”.’
A note at the bottom of the email said that the Entz team ‘do not condone’ cannabis use.
It added: ‘The possession and consumption of marijuana is illegal in the UK and against university regulations.
‘420 is an internationally recognised day of protest for legalisation as well as an iconic aspect of pop culture for our generation, and this is what we intend to celebrate.’
Following the backlash, the team were forced to back down and cancel the event.
In an email they said: ‘We understand that this was met with offence and we want to apologise dearly to those who were offended.
‘We overlooked the clear issues with this theme and now realise our very significant mistake in the matter. We can’t apologise enough.
‘Nor did we expect any members of the College to be dressing in a manner so as to be culturally appropriating any culture.’
The team added in a statement to Cherwell: ‘We recognised quickly that there were many real problems with this theme and it was consequently changed.
‘To reiterate, the event will not be going ahead with this theme. We regret and apologise for any offence or distress which may have been caused.’
College bops are aimed at helping students within a college to socialise and relax and usually have a dressing up element.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.