In 2016, students held a ‘Countries of the World’ party at Queen’s, which made international headlines for its perceived “shocking racism” (The National Post). This Halloween 2018 weekend, a group of forty Film & Media undergraduates unintentionally repeated history with their attempt at a “Countries of the World Party”-themed party, where students would attempt to dress up as students attempting to dress up as racist caricatures, leading to their mass expulsion. The party, which was called for 9:30pm (but didn’t have anyone, other than one awkward lab partner, show up until 11:30pm), featured students in alarming costumes like: ‘Man imitating girl in burqa’, and ‘Girls resembling guys dressed as sushi chefs’.
It only took several hours for pictures, posted on social media, to make their way to the university administration. The school took quick action. All forty students were called into the offices of the Vice-Provost to explain themselves. Golden Words spoke with Djan Ploober (Film ‘19), a student who admitted to organizing the party. “We really thought we were doing something good for the school,” Djan said, “and so when I was putting on blackface this weekend, I was really positing a postmodernist critique of a racist student who would be so silly as to put on blackface in today’s society.” Dan was immediately expelled from Queen’s for his involvement in planning the party, and has several lawsuits against him pending by the ACLU and NAACP.
Another student party organizer feels that her punishment was unjust is Emily Evans (Film ‘21). “I just don’t think the school truly understands the struggles that minorities and racialized communities face, even in a welcoming place like Canada,” she explains, “and that’s why when I attached 4 mannequins decorated with orange jumpsuits and tattoos to my body to masquerade as a Mexican chain gang, I did it to stand in solidarity with them.” In addition to Emily’s expulsion, she was banned from the country of Mexico for ten years. “I just don’t think what I did was any worse than Djan Ploober’s costume. That guy is a sick fuck.”
Since the incident, there have been rumours that recently cancelled Netflix television series, American Vandal, may return as a Canadian spin-off which focuses on the forty expelled students. While a few sources within the company have confirmed the rumour, one Netflix executive against the idea described the potential series as “highly problematic” and “100% not fictional”.
Ploober has since returned home to Cobourg, Ontario and is living at home with his family while he re-evaluates his personal journey. “I never really expected that my university experience would end this way. One second you’re at Stauffer studying for a big midterm, next second you’re in a stranger’s bathroom painting your face black while listening to a Wes Anderson soundtrack compilation, the next second you’re accused of a hate crime, the next second you’re unanimously found guilty of that hate crime by several juries.” Over the next few months, Ploober plans to film a “definitely ironic” documentary on Jordan B Peterson and work on the “pretty serious” federal election campaign of Faith Goldy. “Yeah I just think she has some very avant-garde ideas!”
Steve Reich III