Students uncomfortable with ‘distasteful and inappropriate’ club marketing

Several+Cal+Lutheran+students+reached+out+to+Student+Life+on+Instagram+after+they+promoted+Smash+Club%27s+poster+which+included+%27inappropriate%27+language%2C+students+say.

Contributed: CLU Smash Club

Several Cal Lutheran students reached out to Student Life on Instagram after they promoted Smash Club's poster which included 'inappropriate' language, students say.

Lauren Heller, Reporter

Though all in-person activities are on hold during the pandemic, California Lutheran University clubs were able to promote themselves during Student Life’s ‘Virtual Involvement Fair.’ 

A poster shared on Instagram by the Cal Lutheran Smash Club, however, was a source of controversy for some students. 

The poster read:

“Wanna Smash?

Beat Some Cheeks?

Get Your Cheeks Beat?

Join Smash Club”

The poster, originally shared on Instagram @clu_smash_club, was promoted on Cal Lutheran Student Life’s Instagram page, and Mt. Clef’s Instagram page.

Both posts have been removed from these pages. 

Several students reached out to the owners of these accounts to criticize the poster. Not long after the poster was originally posted, the individual running Student Life’s Instagram account turned off the ability to comment on the post. 

Monique Avina, co-president of Cal Lutheran’s Smash Club, said in an email interview that “the purpose of this poster was to bring the incoming/prospective smash players together to join our club.” Avina said that the poster used the term “beat some cheeks” instead of the alternative “kick your ass.”

The word choice was supposed to “give a good laugh,” she said.  

Cal Lutheran junior Jesus Raya, saw the post on Instagram and said he did not find it funny. He said he felt it was “distasteful and inappropriate.”

“When you say stuff like beat them cheeks, like you have to know what that means. It does not take a genius to understand,” Raya said. “And one quick look at Urban Dictionary and you can see that this has the connotation of rape.” 

He said that he was also frustrated that a Cal Lutheran-endorsed or affiliated account would repost something with this kind of language. 

Raya said he reached out to the Student Life account through Instagram direct message to express his disappointment in the poster. 

Cal Lutheran senior, Aliyah Gardea, also complained to Student Life about the poster. She first shared her concerns on her Instagram story.

Gardea said she found this poster to be “gross” and questioned why a Cal Lutheran-related account would post this.

“Beat cheeks is known to be vulgar,” Gardea said.

Avina said when she saw students’ reactions to her poster she was “confused.”

Some students understood the “lingo” on the poster, Avina said. But she “wanted to reach out and explain the smash community lingo, but as you know, a joke isn’t really a good joke if you have to explain it.”

Cambria Teter and Jaime Faucher, the coordinator of Student Involvement and associate director of Student Life, respectively, referenced the Cal Lutheran website when asked about the school’s poster approval process.

According to the website, all “submissions must be received at least two weeks prior to the desired posting date.”

The website also states that “Student Life has the right not to approve any publicity if it is found in poor taste, offensive, or not in compliance with University standards and/or policy.” 

Avina said that she “would like to apologize to those who may have felt uncomfortable towards [her] posters…I did not mean to put others in such a confusing environment and I’m very sorry for doing so.”

She added, “with this feedback, I intend to be much more inclusive and clear as the Smash Co-president and future professional designer as I move onward,” Avina said. 

Gardea said that she knows other students reached out to Student Life about this poster and are still waiting for a response.

Students would benefit from “training in crisis management,” Gardea said, as she believed the deleting and disabling of comments was “unprofessional.”

“The way that Student Life treated me, made me feel like they didn’t care that much until it became a bigger issue,” Gardea said. 

Moving forward, Raya said he hopes that Cal Lutheran and its clubs learn from this.

“To really understand that once you publish something under your name,” Raya said, “that is you endorsing that message, so be very careful where you put your name.”