The Tombs issued an apology for offensive statements made during its Trivia Night on Nov. 4 and promised changes in the future to prevent the incident from recurring.
The weekly trivia night, which occurs each Tuesday, invites patrons to form their own teams, create names and answer questions. Occasionally, the trivia host asks an open-ended bonus question, which, rather than being awarded points based on correctness, is judged based on laughs from the audience. Last Tuesday, in the bonus round, the host asked the question, “What issue would you add to a candidate’s platform?” Audience responses included the elimination of the NAACP, the Rodney King beating and responses trivializing sexual assault.
“It was that perfect trifecta of racial injustice, police brutality and rape. And what was very concerning was that the trivia host was laughing as well as pretty much most people attending trivia,” Nora West (SFS’15), who tweeted at The Tombs to bring the issue to the restaurant’s attention, said.
Nicole Chenelle (COL ’15), who attended the event, said that she was stunned by the nature of the comments.
“I was disheartened, upset and very shocked,” Chenelle said. “I thought those comments went beyond any small culturally insensitive thing that could be misinterpreted.”
Erin Riordan (COL ’15), who was not in attendance at last week’s trivia night but has gone to Tombs Trivia Night before, noted that the problem had come up in the past and was primarily prevalent in the bonus round.
“I went to Tombs trivia a lot in the spring, and every single time I went, something offensive and degrading and really violent was said,” she said. “Generally speaking, the rounds that are predetermined questions with written-down answers are not offensive in the way that the bonus round is.”
Noting that complaints had been made before, West criticized the restaurant for only acting retroactively.
“They’re willing to apologize, but they’re not willing to eliminate the Bonus Round or talk seriously about censoring what is submitted,” West said. “It seems to me they deal with this as a [public relations] issue instead of as a community issue.”
Tombs Manager Alex Jacobs was not present during trivia night but said that the restaurant was taking the complaints seriously.
“It is important that everybody come in and feel safe and comfortable at The Tombs. If somebody is trying to be funny at the expense of someone else, we’re going to try and censor those comments,” Jacobs said.
He said that the restaurant would institute changes to the trivia night and would be having discussions with the hosts to prevent similar comments from being aired.
“The DJ decided to read all the answers to the question, so we’re going to have to make sure that we’re filtering those. Also, the team names have been kind of racy in the past. We need to make sure we’re on the safe side and make sure we’re not alienating any of our guests,” Jacobs said. “We need to make sure our DJs exercise better judgment, and if they have any questions, they bring it to management so that we’re` not giving anyone a soapbox to be insensitive.”