A fraternity at American University was forced to cancel a fundraiser for military veterans because heads of the school believed that they name of the event could be “appropriating culture.” Sigma Alpha Mu organized the fundraiser for “Armor Down,” an organization that helps reintegrate military veterans back into society and provides assistance for vets with mental health problems. The frat would play badminton and named the event “Bad(minton) and Boujee,” after the hit song “Bad and Boujee” by Migos. However, school administrators shut it down.
After Sigma Alpha Mu organized the event, Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life Colin Gerker emailed the fraternity said the event’s name could be perceived as “cultural appropriation.”
“I suspect that this event name will be criticized for the use of ‘boujee,’” Gerker wrote. “I know it’s a colloquial term and is popular via Migos, but we have had groups get reamed for appropriating culture before related to situations like this.”
The Assistant Director said the event’s title must be changed if the frat wanted approval for the fundraiser.
“The event will not be approved in [AU’s database for requesting venues] until you/your group comes back with a new name,” the email said.
The issue with the name was the word “Boujee,” which is an abbreviated slang term that comes from the word “bourgeois;” meaning “belonging to or characteristic of the middle class, typically with reference to its perceived materialistic values or conventional attitudes.”
Rocco Cimino, who is the president of Sigma Alpha Mu, claimed there was no hidden or evil message in the event’s name. It was just the coolest possible name for a badminton game that you could possibly have in 2017 because as Cimino said badminton is “not exactly the most exciting thing in the world.”
“We were trying to plan a philanthropy event that incorporated a sport, as those typically perform much better on our campus,” Cimino told Campus Reform. “Unfortunately, pretty much every sport we could think of was taken. We settled on badminton because we could use Migos’s ‘Bad and Boujee’ as a play on words to generate buzz.”
“Overall, we do not see how a single word which loosely translates to ‘high class’ should disqualify our entire event,” the 20-year-old said. “We also do not understand how there is a ‘culture’ associated with boujee and how, even if there is, the event is completely unrelated to the name.”
“It’s just a name used to try to make the sport of badminton more relatable/intriguing to college students so we can have a higher turnout and donate the proceeds to helping veterans combat their mental health issues,” Cimino concluded.
Ultimately, Sigma Alpha Mu canceled the event because it did not “have enough time to promote/raise money for the event” if they changed the title.
Sigma Alpha Mu released a statement on the cancellation:
“This is a cause we take very seriously as Armor Down was founded by Benjamin King, an alumnus of our chapter and current chapter adviser,” the fraternity wrote. “We would not make a mockery of an event intended to benefit such an organization by dressing up.”
The frat did set up a GoFundMe page for those who still want to donate to the fantastic cause.
The outrage over a harmless name is bad enough, but the tremendous philanthropy was for combat veterans who need help, which makes the cancellation even worse.