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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

South College banner arouses controversy

Photo by Emma Sylvester for The Lafayette
The banner was promptly taken down after the Lafayette Activities Forum received complaints.

A cherished rivalry week tradition sparked controversy when a banner was hung on South College that read “Lehigh is like a penny: brown, 2 faced, worthless.”

Some students and faculty found the banner to be offensive, and it was accordingly removed by the college. Reactions to and interpretations of the banner, however, were mixed. 

Damoi Morgan ‘25, a South College resident advisor, felt that the usage of the word “brown” could be problematic.

“The first thing you see is brown and two derogatory terms,” Morgan said. “As a Black person, I can’t ignore it.”

Jefrey Alexander ‘23 said that, as a student of color, he feels that the hurt he felt mattered more than the supposedly innocent intentions of the banner maker.

“While we minority groups can understand your intent, it’s kind of funny how you can’t understand how we perceive the message,” Alexander said. “You are telling us that our feelings are invalid simply because you meant it in a different way and it’s like, that’s not how that works.”

Psychology professor Angela Bell filed a bias report about the banner through One Pard and used it as an example in her senior capstone about prejudice. As someone who studies prejudice and bias, Bell emphasized that the banner employs stereotypes, even if the creator did not intend for it to.

“This is an example of a microaggression or a form of a blind spot that, even if you did not see it, I am telling you now, this is how it works … This is what the literature says is a stereotype … We are linking brown people or the color brown to something that is worthless,” Bell said.

Some students, however, felt that the banner’s content did not warrant such a strong reaction.

“I really feel like if the flyer was offensive, I promise you, me and the many multicultural organizations on campus would have addressed it,” Jada Peters ‘24, a NIA co-president, said. “And if it is a problem, how do they address it? Like who are you talking to? Like, did you reach out to any of the multicultural organizations to see how they feel about the issue? No, they never asked.”

One student of color who wished to remain anonymous due to possible backlash said that “you really have to be looking at things a certain way” to take a racist message away from the banner. She added that more tangible issues, such as the purportedly prohibitive cost of the Lafayette-Lehigh game, should have a larger spotlight on them than the banner.

“The issue I have is that there are actually Black and brown students being displaced in Easton due to gentrification, but that is not conversations that we are having on campus,” Peters said.

Shreya Raizada ‘25, a resident advisor at South College, wrote in an email that “the RA South staff did not have a hand in making the banner.” 

“[We] also wanted the banner to go down to avoid misinterpretation,” Raizada added. 

According to Melissa Dalrymple, the associate director of Student Involvement, the banner was taken down after it was reported to the Lafayette Activities Forum (LAF), the organization in charge of the banner-painting event. 

Dalrymple declined to comment on the content of the banner and declined to provide the list of students that made banners.

“Student Life will discuss ways to continue the banner-making tradition in the future while developing guardrails for the traditional process by which banners are developed and displayed on campus buildings,” Dean of Students Brian Samble wrote in an email.

Nathan Kornfeind ’23 contributed reporting.

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About the Contributors
Emma Chen
Emma Chen, Managing Editor
Emma has very strong opinions about crust, has never eaten a blueberry, and is a staunch hater of AP style.
Trebor Maitin
Trebor Maitin, Managing Editor
Pennsylvania enthusiast.
Jenny Davis, Staff News Writer
Shirley Liu
Shirley Liu, Managing Editor
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Emma Sylvester
Emma Sylvester, Photo Editor

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  • L

    Laf Alum ‘9Nov 18, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    I kid you not – this is one of the worst articles I’ve ever seen written. Comparing the color of a penny to Lehigh University’s primary color is not racist. Please delete this article before potential Lafayette students realize how dumb people who go to this school is. “Brown” is not a race.

  • ‘25Nov 18, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    The banner is obviously satirical and represents the spirit of the rivalry. This issue being raised is commoditizing the banner as something to do with race. As a person of color, I don’t see a problem with this and if you want to equate me to an obvious joke about a penny, maybe that’s a perverted view on race. PC culture run amok. I’m sure if the word “white” was on here instead of brown, the reaction would be different in the form of no reaction at all.