Hawaii state Rep. Bob McDermott weighed in on University of South Dakota officials who told law students it was not appropriate to have leis at a beach day event.
The Student Bar Association of the USD School of Law originally named the social event “Hawaiian Day, according to the Sioux Fall Argus Leader. The organization changed the name to “Beach Day” at the university’s suggestion where leis would still be given to attendees. The student association, however, said they would not hand out leis as it was deemed “culturally insensitive by the administration.”
McDermott fired back in a letter to the editor for The Volante Monday, where he said, “Someone in South Dakota has their head stuck in a snowbank.”
He said the lei is welcoming to all.
“One individual’s objection to its use at a festive event is both patronizing and an insult to our island tradition,” McDermott wrote. “It is also a demonstration of ignorance about the cultural significance of the lei.”
The floral wreath is “given out of love and respect on any joyous occasion,” according to McDermott.
The university’s Director of Marketing Communications and University Relations Michelle Cwach said the interim administration suggested that “certain elements of the programming be changed,” according to the Leader.
USD President Sheila Gestring started an investigation over the incident and will look into whether the law school’s interim administration went against free expression, the Leader reported.
“Once this person gets thawed out perhaps they’ll come and visit us,” McDermott said.
Amid the incident, South Dakota’s legislature bringing back a free speech bill to the table Monday after it was voted down less than a week ago. The bill is expected to have a second hearing Wednesday, according to the Leader.
McDermott, USD and USD Law did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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