Panel Ends 75 Year Culturally Questionable Senior Luau Tradition

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by Dash Phillips

"This is so unfair!" said one of the heartbroken seniors. "We've been told our event is insensitive to real Hawaiians but the administration didn't even acknowledge that we'd spent extra money on real pineapples instead of canned."
“This is so unfair!” said one of the heartbroken seniors. “We’ve been told our event is insensitive to real Hawaiians but the administration didn’t even acknowledge that we’d spent extra money on real pineapples instead of canned.”

The Board of Trustees at Cracker Barrel College accepted today the recommendation of a Blue Ribbon Multicultural Panel to cancel the annual “Senior Luau” deeming the 75 year old tradition as “culturally insensitive.”

Lara Martinson, Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Chair of the Blue Ribbon Panel praised the board’s decision. “The days of portraying the native Hawaiians as wearing grass skirts and doing the hula are finally over,” said Martinson. “Hawaii has had a long tradition of being a financial engine in the Pacific, given the success of its tourist programs and the enormous export of leis and pineapples. Hawaii needs to be seen as a serious economic player – and not as a land where women run barefoot feeding poi to their men.”

The issue came to light at the College through the action of a student activist group called TWHIT (Those Whom Hawaii is Important To). In a letter to the Board of Trustees, the President of TWHIT, Jake Norwell stated, “Hawaii has crime and a poor public education system, so why would we continue the stereotype that it is paradise on earth? You don’t see these realities incorporated into the Senior Luau program. We want people to know the real Hawaii.”

Kara Donaldson, Chair of the Senior Luau committee disagreed. “I just wanted us seniors to have a fun event before studying for finals. We’d get lei’d,’ then dance to tunes of a ukulele, and enjoy the Multipurpose Room as if it were an island getaway. Is this so wrong? I am heartbroken that Cracker Barrel will no longer support the Senior Luau!”

Kyle Horton, a senior at Cracker Barrel heard about the decision through his Facebook page. “This really sucks! I was looking forward to roasting a pig and drinking Mai Tais all night – I mean isn’t that what Hawaii is all about?” When asked about the student response to the administration’s canceling of the event he said, “We’re going to have the Luau anyway – it might be off-campus, but some twits are not stopping us from having our fun! Viva luau and aloha!”

In the shadow of the Student Union where members of the physical plant department were seen taking down the decorative, lava flowing mountain that was once the symbol of the Senior Luau, Faye Worthington, Chair of the Cracker Barrel Board of Trustees said, “Even though the campus climate is tense now, I am clear that this is our role – to make the difficult but correct decisions that determine the course of this community of learners forever.”