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A Message from President Jayasuriya

Posted from Monday, May 03, 2021 through Monday, May 10, 2021

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

Southwest Minnesota State University’s Hawaiian Night celebration is a long-standing tradition that has brought alumni, students and community members together for decades to cheer on our Mustang basketball teams and break up the monotony of cold Minnesota winters. It’s a night to gather with friends, imagine being in a warmer climate, and show our support for our hometown team. This past year SMSU faculty members and the SMSU Student Association raised the issue of the term “Hawaiian Night” and the revelry associated with the evening as being a form of cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation can be best described as the inappropriate adoption of customs or practices of one people by members of another, more dominant people that is used for their own personal interest. The use of those practices often times does not reflect the true meanings or proper context to respect the customs and traditions of the culture from which those items or practices have been borrowed.

To address this challenge, the SMSU Student Association asked to change the name of the event in order to remove any reference to one culture or group. The students presented a list of potential names to the President’s Cabinet for approval and then put the names to the entire student body for a vote. The name Tropical Night was overwhelmingly chosen as a more appropriate title for our long-standing tradition. Southwest prides itself in being an inclusive and student-centered institution. I am very proud of our students for raising awareness and taking the initiative to encourage change for the better. I am looking forward to Tropical Night 2022 and seeing our alumni, students and the community once again come back together to carry on this fun tradition and cheer on our Mustangs!

Kumara Jayasuriya



Category: Attention