University of New Hampshire Student Activists Demand Local Businesses Stop Selling Ponchos And Sombreros

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Students at the University of New Hampshire have had it with the cultural appropriation that is local Durham businesses selling items such as ponchos and sombreros.

The student activist group “All Eyes On UNH” made the demand last week following various Cinco de Mayo celebrations, including one interaction in which a student posted a video to Facebook of herself loudly chastising another student for wearing a serape-style poncho to a party.

“What’s the point of wearing a poncho?” the student, identified by Campus Reform as Danique Montique, told another student in her video. “If you’re not Mexican, it’s not your holiday.”

In a letter Montique penned to Facebook that begins “Dear UNH,” she states how “utterly disgusted” she felt after other students “chose to demean and appropriate Mexican culture.”

“I walked on campus miserable as if I didn’t belong,” Montique wrote. “As a black woman, I was forced to become the very thing society deemed me to be:  angry.

“To my Mexican brothers and sisters, I am sorry.”

Montique has also reached out to other campus news websites, including, to document other allegedly racist incidents, including a student who apparently uploaded a photo of himself in “blackface” and proceeded to mock her over her stances.  

According to, other incidents followed, including the appearance of nine crudely-drawn swastikas on a dormitory wall while yet another student posted a photo of himself wearing a black mask:


In addition, another student angered others in March after she posted a photo of friends at a college party, one of whom apparently painted his face black:


The student who uploaded the image, Christina Bianco, served in UNH’s Student Senate as the fraternity and sorority life student affairs liaison. According to a copy of a Student Senate letter shared on Facebook by Montique, the body removed Bianco from her post after complaints surfaced.

The latest development roiling the campus involves the demands from All Eyes On UNH that local businesses stop selling ponchos and sombreros.

“Cultural appropriation at UNH continues the normalization of racist behavior that is already an issue on campus,” the letter states. “Although appropriation is a symptom of the problem, institutional racism is the mechanism that allows for individuals to feel validated and justified in their behavior. It is possible to change the drinking culture at UNH, but it takes confrontation, actions, and hard conversation to do so.

“As a majority white campus, the Cinco controversy has shown that most students at UNH do not understand the importance of cultural literacy and how cultural appropriation contributes to the growing acceptance of racism and xenophobia.”

The group then specifically states their demand that “the UNH administration and town elected officials call on local stores in Durham to stop carrying items like ponchos and sombreros for May 5th celebrations, and instead seek out alternative sources of revenue.”

Additional demands to the administration include calls to have them formally address the Cinco de Mayo incidents and create a “campus-wide committee to prevent similar offenses in future years.”

The letter concludes with a comment from the group as a whole:

“‘All Eyes on UNH’ are members of the UNH community who hold the mirror up to those who act unjustly.”