MacMillan House and Quinby House will co-host their annual Cold War party this Saturday, despite the Inter-House Council (IHC) Executive Committee’s recommendation to cancel the event. The party, held annually, features MacMillan as the Soviet Union and Quinby as the United States. In past years, students have constructed a wall out of snow between the two houses, but members agreed not to construct a wall this year because they deemed it inappropriate given the discourse about walls in current American politics.

Tessa Westfall ’18, President of the IHC and former member of MacMillan, said that the IHC objected to the party theme based on the recent actions of the Trump administration.

“The goal of the Houses is to serve campus,” said Westfall. “A lot of people on this campus are directly affected by new executive orders … that the presidential administration is performing, [so] I think that a performative nationalism party is not in the best interest of campus.”

Officers from the executive committee, who lead the IHC, offered their opinion to the IHC, which includes the vice president and programming director from each College House. However, the Houses themselves were ultimately responsible for deciding whether to hold the party.

Last Thursday, MacMillan House hosted a discussion in order to receive student input on its intention to have the party. 

“We said ‘hey, we’re thinking about doing Cold War, what are the thoughts of the campus?’ And if there was enough concern, if we found people were seriously upset about it, we were definitely interested in changing the theme,” said Michael Lee ’19, vice president of MacMillan. “No one came to that talk, so we were like, ‘Alright, we’re going to go through with it.’”

According to Quinby House Vice President Jon Luke Tittmann ’19, only members of MacMillan and Quinby attended the discussion, although the small turnout may have resulted from a lack of advertising. 

“For me, the most compelling argument against having the party was that America stands for a lot of different things now, due to the political climate, than it did a couple months ago, and some of those things are … negative things that attack people’s identities,” said Tittmann. “And so the idea of having a lot of drunk people in a college basement chanting ‘USA’ might inherently seem exclusive to people who think America stands for something that is not inclusive right now.”

But Tittmann suggested that the party will not necessarily have a negative effect.

“However, it’s also dangerous to assume that people will feel that that’s exclusive,” said Tittmann. “It’s hard to choose whether or not we should have this party, I think, because so many people identify themselves and identify what America means to them in such different ways. So my idea is that we should throw the party but … have a really mindful party and try to be as inclusive as possible.”

Kinaya Hassane ’19, a member of MacMillan, was not concerned by the party’s theme and supports the Houses’ mutual decision to host the event.

“As someone who is personally affected by the election of Donald Trump and whose family will be affected by the policies that he wants to put in place, a Cold War party, which is obviously supposed to be satirical and funny, is really small in terms of the scale of things that I could be hurt by with respect to things that Donald Trump could actually do as president,” Hassane said.

Following their discussions, MacMillan and Quinby decided to discontinue the tradition of building a snow wall between the two houses this year.

“I think walls stand for a lot of things this year that they didn’t stand for last year, and in previous years,” said Tittmann. “And so the question is, again, do we need the wall? If we have the wall, would that imply certain inherently exclusive ideologies and things like that?”

“In the actual party, I don’t think the wall is going to make that much of a difference, so I think that’s an actionable thing that we can get rid of to make the party seem more inclusive,” he added.

This is not the first time that the Cold War party’s theme has been a topic of discussion. 

“I’ve always found the party to be questionable, especially two years ago when I was living in Mac, just because it is based off of a war,” said Mitsuki Nishimoto ’17, Quinby House proctor. “It’s not really something to celebrate, and I always thought that there were better ways to showcase this rivalry between Mac and Quinby.”

Nonetheless, Nishimoto was pleased with the conversations that led to the Houses’ choice. 

“Ultimately, I want it to be the Houses’ decision, and I think it was really great that a lot of critical conversations came out of the planning.”

Jessica Piper contributed to this report.