St. Thomas Cancels 'Hump Day' Camel after Backlash

Updated: 05/16/2014 4:33 PM By: Megan Stewart

Photo courtesy of Briggs LeSavage
Photo courtesy of Briggs LeSavage

The University of St. Thomas has been getting some negative attention after a camel was scheduled to come to the St. Paul campus for "Hump Day."

The animal was set to come Wednesday for a petting zoo put on by the Residence Hall Association, but the idea was met with backlash from students and St. Thomas canceled the event.

The camel was going to be rented from a vendor north of St. Paul. The event was meant to make light of what is known as "Hump Day" to help relieve stress for students as they study for exams, said school spokesman Jim Winterer.

But instead of posting selfies with the camel on Instagram, some angry students protested on Facebook and blogs. They gained enough momentum to be mentioned on Fox News Channel and several national news outlets.

The university didn't think anything of the petting zoo at first, Winterer said. The school brought in a reindeer in December at the end of first semester and the event was well-received, Winterer said.

Some students said it would have been a poor use of the university's money. Others felt the event was a form of animal cruelty and disrespectful to the animal. Others felt it was racially or religiously motivated.

Winterer said the school's reason for canceling the event was after all the hype, "it wasn't going to be fun anymore."

Winterer gave the following statement on behalf of the university:

"The Residence Hall Association, a student organization at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., arranged to bring a camel to campus from a vendor located north of St. Paul on May 14 for an end-of-semester, petting-zoo-type event for students.

When the event was announced, some students wrote Facebook comments protesting the visit, suggesting the event would not be a good use of funds, would promote a negative carbon footprint, and would remove an animal from its “natural habitat.”

It was never the university’s intent to make a political or cultural statement of any kind by bringing a camel to campus. In light of the negative comments, it was clear that the camel’s visit would no longer be simply a fun, stress-reducing activity for students as originally intended. At that point, the university decided to cancel the event."