Santa Fe College investigating Jell-O wrestling
Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 2:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 7:33 p.m.
Complaints about a Jello-O wrestling contest at the Society for Nerds “Evolution of the Nerds” party at Santa Fe College has prompted an inquiry about whether the activity violated school policy prohibiting sexual harassment and discrimination.
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During meetings of the college senate and Career Service Council, some employees asked why the college was having Jell-O wrestling contests, calling such events demeaning to women and “salacious,” Human Resources Director Lela Frye said.
No one officially complained that they had been harassed, but the college must investigate even third-party complaints of activities that affect women, minorities and other protected groups, no matter the source, Frye said.
“It's the college's commitment to ensure we have a campus free of discrimination or harassment,” Frye said. “It would be negligent on our part not to explore on our part what was termed as a salacious event.”
Frye said she has to remain neutral as she looks into the matter, but said she heard nothing but positive feedback from students and faculty who attended the event.
“We're probably being overly cautious of protecting our college community and would not want to do anything that is offensive,” she said.
Adjunct faculty member and Senate representative Robin Harpe sent an email out to employees Thursday that the college's equal access/equal opportunity coordinator “received negative feedback related to the Jell-O wrestling activity and its impact on (and representation of) women” under College Rule 2.8: Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment.
The email directed employees to a Web link to fill out a survey, asking various questions about how they felt about Jell-O wrestling, whether they would attend Jell-O wrestling events and if they knew whether or not such an event had occurred on campus. The surveys are due Friday.
According to its website, Society for Nerds is “A group dedicated to all Nerdy and Dorkish pursuits, including Trading Card Games, Role-Playing, Trivia Nights, Video Games and other such things.”
Andres Alvarez, vice president of the Society for Nerds, said the “Evolution of the Nerds” event took a year of planning, and the Jell-O contest had been vetted by the student and faculty senates and other administrative offices, he said.
Faculty members and college police were present, and the reaction to the event was overwhelmingly positive, he said.
“I don't know where harassment comes in,” he said. “There was no male to female contact.”
The Jell-O wrestling contest drew about 12 contestants, Alvarez said, who had to wear dark T-shirts and shorts and could not participate in bikini suits or underwear.
“It is not as if they were walking around naked or in bathing suits,” he said.
David Houder, director of communications at Santa Fe, confirmed that the event went through all the proper channels, mainly for safety concerns. Nobody at the time raised an issue about the Jell-O wrestling.
“As far as we know, everyone involved were cool with it,” Houder said. “It went through all the channels. Nobody looking at that approval process went ‘Oh, wow, Jell-O wrestling is a bad thing.' ”
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