Club Row Theme Changes After Clubs Express Concern

The theme for Club Row went from Black Panther, the billion-dollar Marvel Studios film released in February, to the more encompassing theme of ‘movies’ after several clubs spoke out cautioning the decision.

On Thursday, April 26, Club Row, one of the biggest events on campus each semester will be held at Santa Monica College. It’s when over 70 clubs can go all to advertise their club and have a friendly competition among the clubs for monetary prizes.

The Inter-Club Council, which holds bi-weekly meetings every Thursday at 4 p.m. in HSS 165, organizes the event. These meetings have clubs send delegates to go to learn and vote upon anything on campus revolving around club activity.

During their last meeting on March 8, the majority of delegates voted on Black Panther to be the theme which every club will decorate their booths around. However, several students voiced their concerns about the potential for cultural appropriation, which caused the ICC to put on the agenda for a vote to stick with Black Panther or change the theme.

Before the revote, several students stood in front of the room and spoke about their decision to ask for this change. Karlyn Hayes, the president of the Black Collegians club, was one of the advocates which spoke to everyone in attendance.

“When we first heard about the idea, we were very excited because we do love the idea of celebrating the movie as a school on the quad and have everyone celebrate what it means,” Hayes said. “We had some very serious concerns about appropriation and how that can, and will lead to the belittling of the culture, whether unintentional or not.”

Angel Rading, the delegate for Phi Theta Kappa, agreed with Hayes about the importance of the film.

“We just need to really understand the history, the context and the way it could be interpreted,” Rading said. “[The movie] was such a new age and a new way to see African-American and African culture in a way that showed beauty, which has been misrepresented."

Immediately after, the vote was held to keep with the original theme or propose a new one. Only three people voted to stick with Black Panther, which meant that the vote passed to open the floor up for a new theme. Multiple themes were proposed such as ‘sustainability’ and ‘decades,’ but ultimately it was the theme of ‘movies’ that won.

The representative of the ICC, chair Kyana Shajari, found the meeting to be respectful and productive and noted that with the new theme, clubs can still do Black Panther.

“I was glad everyone almost unanimously decided that it was a good idea to change the theme, given the current climate,” Shajari said.

Chris Welch, the delegate for the Music Appreciation club, was one of the few who voted to keep the theme.

“Having a thing like that could have introduced us as a student body into a world of understanding, to an educational moment,” Welch said. “I understand it’s an effort to not offend, and I respect that. It’s shying away from an opportunity to learn about a culture.