After a long weekend of arduous campaigning, social activist group OPennce Taken has succeeded in convincing the Penn administration to cancel Labor Day in the future on the grounds that it is exclusionary to people who don’t need to work for money.
“At a school like Penn, where so many people spend their summers on Nantucket and in the Hamptons, it’s really offensive and honestly just backwards to celebrate Labor Day,” said Kate Wilson (C ’18). Kate brought the issue to OPennce Taken after she experienced a microaggression on her first day of class.
“This girl mentioned that she spent her summer working in a restaurant because her financial aid was lowered,” Kate explained. Kate spent her summer sunbathing in the Hamptons and shopping in New York. “At least my summer made a contribution to the economy,” she said. “This girl was only working for herself.”
Greyson Smith (C ’17), who was also present for the microaggression, agreed. “I am offended,” he said.
And so Kate, along with a few friends and members of OPennce Taken, spent the hours of Labor Day leading up to Owls’ Battleship Brunch outside of Capogiro, Sweetgreen and The Radian asking students to sign a petition to end the observation of the holiday at Penn.
“We [OPennce Taken] are against all types of discrimination,” said President Ernesto Wens (C ’17). “So our group protests indiscriminately, regardless of the type, level or validity of the offense.”
“The issue of Labor Day discrimination, for example, is one of those things that society has impressed on us so much that we needed someone like Kate to point it out to us before we could be offended,” he said. “It just goes to show that we all need to be on the lookout for things to be offended by at all times, lest we become acquiescent in offending others.”
“What really opened my eyes was the fact that we couldn’t even campaign outside of Metro because it was closed for the holiday,” said Courtney Abrams (C ’17), Vice President of OPennce Taken. “It’s exactly this kind of atavistic, outdated discrimination that OPennce strives to be outwardly offended by.”
Kate, who looks really good in white, also cited color discrimination in her petition as a reason for ending the holiday.
“The white rompers my friends and I wore on the Battleship looked fantastic, especially since we’re all still so tan from the beach this summer,” she said. “Just look at my Instagram.”
“Imagine if we treated the color black the same way we treat white,” Jessica Goldberg (C ’17), Kate’s big, added. “Like, imagine what a catastrophe Theta date nights would be.”
“I just feel like all colors matter,” said Kate.
After a few hours of consideration, the Penn Administration decided to cancel the observation of the holiday in the future.
“Penn strives to provide a safe space for its students to voice their offense and find others who are equally offended, no matter what the offending matter at hand may be,” Provost Prince said. “I encourage any student currently suffering from offense to reach out to the various resources we have available.”
“Of course,” he added, “all of this information is available in Thrive at Penn.”