The Keenan Revue is without a home for 2011. A staple on the Saint Mary’s campus for over 30 years, the Revue, with its raunchy and at times controversial humor, has consistently been a popular crowd pleaser. Its tickets sell out in less than 15 minutes every year. The show is created for students, by students, and if audience numbers are any indication, the majority of students don’t take issue with its content.
Saint Mary’s administrators have decided not to renew their contract with Keenan because they find “the sexual nature of the skits as well as the inappropriate references to women to be incongruent with Saint Mary’s College mission and values,” a College official said in a recent statement. The College’s desire to uphold its identity is respectable, though lingering questions about the decision remain — the most notable of which is, after three decades, why now?
The College’s decision is, in effect, censorship — an issue that’s been raised on both campuses. Two years ago, the Dillon Pep Rally was canceled after decades of being held before the first Notre Dame football home game of the season. While administrators never openly said the nature of the content was the reason for the decision, the Pep Rally, like the Revue, was known for its salacious humor. When the Pep Rally returned this year, the format was much more “family friendly,” to the disappointment of many students.
It’s a difficult subject. Administrators do have to draw the line somewhere, and the line between acceptable and unacceptable humor is not easily determined. We do acknowledge the responsibilities of administrators to ensure that on-campus performances are done tastefully.
In the case of the Keenan Revue, some acts have in the past crossed the line, but perhaps administrators at Saint Mary’s could have presented their concerns and reiterated their expectations before canceling the event contract outright. Perhaps it would have been more valuable to draw the line on specific concerns and outline consequences for breaking guidelines, as opposed to ruling the whole event unacceptable.
The satire found in events like the Dillon Pep Rally and the Keenan Revue is a valued tradition and entertaining experience for students — when it isn’t censored. These kinds of popular events, created by students, for students, are a valuable part of student life. Hopefully the Keenan Revue will continue in a new location next year, and the University and College administrations will recognize the value of such events, working with organizers to ensure an enjoyable experience for all, instead of outright censorship.