• Wed, Dec 5 2012

Penn State Sorority Criticized For Racist Party (Duh)

Penn State has not had a great year in regards to its reputation. And due to a sorority party that was, at best, in poor taste and at worst, racist, they’ve been struck by yet another blow.

Chi Omega Nu Gamma chapter had a party last Halloween. Because college parties apparently always need to have a theme, they chose “Mexican-themed,” complete with sombreros, ponchos and fake mustaches. Oh, and signs saying, “will mow lawn for weed & beer” as well as “I don’t cut grass I smoke it.”

Get it? Because all Mexicans are alcoholic pothead gardeners! Or just potheads! Good one!

Of course, because the Internet exists and people rarely think about what they’re posting, a photo of the party surfaced and people on campus were not pleased. Cesar Sanchez Lopez, Vice President of the Mexican American Student Association, expressed his disappointment in the theme and attire, as well as the offensiveness of making drug jokes when Mexico is still experiencing “drug war that has led to the death of an estimated 50,000 people, which is nothing to be joked about.”

And Sanchez wasn’t the only one: in fact, angry messages like these were posted on the HUB office of Fraternity and Sorority Life:

President of the chapter, Jessica Ricardi, stated:

“Our chapter of Chi Omega sincerely apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes. The picture in question does not support any of Chi Omega’s values or reflect what the organization aspires to be.”

Of course, apologies weren’t offered up until this week–the party was in October–so it’s a little difficult to see such an apology as sincere and not forced, particularly considering the Panhellenic Council condemned the sorority’s actions. Additionally, the Chi Omega headquarters is also apparently disappointed, with director of communications Whitney Heckabourne emailing to The Collegian:

“The Fraternity believes that personal degradation has no place in our organization, even if such behavior is meant facetiously or in jest. Chi Omega expects its members to share and promote the belief that self-respect, esteem, and a respect for others are necessary ingredients for healthy relationships.”

As of yet, there haven’t been any disciplinary measures, but suspension is reportedly imminent.

Look, it’s possible to dress up like a member of another ethnic group without being racist. You don’t need to wear blackface or squint your eyes or even hold a racist sign enforcing damaging stereotypes! There are, in fact, tons of Mexican American celebrities that you could dress up as in order to celebrate how awesome they are, but “celebration” is never the intent of almost any Mexican-themed party I’ve seen (except when they’ve been thrown by Mexican friends or non-idiots).

Also, it amazes me that freshman introduction courses not yet covered, “Do not take photos and/or associate with racist behavior. It will go on Facebook. People will dislike you immensely… because they should.” College students, just stay away from ethnic stereotype-themed parties, for goodness’ sake. You’ll thank us.

[Gawker]

Photo: OnwardState

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  • kanowledge is power

    Someone needs to create a morals and ethical department at Universities, and mandate that Fraternities run any themed parties by them. Avoid embarrassments like this in the future.

  • Annoyedbythiscrap

    I think I see some Latinas in that photo…what did they think about this stupid party??

    • MyDearGirl

      everyone is some sort of latina with some bronzer and a spray tan

  • Sara

    While I don’t condone the activities of the women of Chi Omega, I do want to point out that the “Mexican” costume, complete with sombrero, poncho and mustache is available every Halloween at party stores. If we say wearing this costume might make you racist (and yes I understand the implications of the signs held up – things that made the situation worse) because it reinforces sterotypes, what else do we need to remove from popular culture? Indian costumes? Probably…as we’ve seen with Victoria Secret and No Doubt it is no longer appropriate to wear feathers and “tribal” attire. Ok, what about a cowboy? No…no…a cowboy costume can’t be racist or be insensitive…even though he’s usually carrying a gun which implies he’s either a killer of men or beast…so uhm, I guess the cowboy will have to be out as well. What about a prisoner costume? No, can’t do that because thousands of people are unjustly incarcerated. See where I’m going with this? When is it enough? When are we going to get over everything being racist and/or insensitive? Yes the girls were in bad taste to throw such a dumb party. Yes I think they deserve to be taught a lesson and they probably have already realized the enormity of their ignorance. Now, do they deserve to be ostracized, publicly shamed and forced to disband? I think that’s a little overboard.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      “When are we going to get over everything being racist and/or insensitive?”

      When racist and insensitive stereotypes stop negatively influencing people’s images, careers and well-being.

    • Sonsy

      Ditto.

    • sara

      I wish we lived in a place where no one makes fun of anyone and everyone is treated equally. But that just will never exist on Earth. There are always going to people that are unkind – whether stereotyping a culture or making fun of someone for being different. I am guilty of it and I would argue that all people at one time or another have been guilty of it too. What I think we can do to help dissipate hate and intolerance is to show love and forgiveness – and then yes, move on!!

    • http://twitter.com/ifbywhiskey jennifer

      Mexican and Native American garb are not analogous to cowboy and prisoner costumes. The former two are reductive depictions of two diverse cultures that are still marginalized today; the latter are not. The distinction between the two categories is pretty obvious.

    • Jerome

      Seriously? a prisoner costume isnt a reductive depiction?

    • bart

      idiot
      Jennifer and the same likes as her

    • gooodthings

      “I do want to point out that the “Mexican” costume, complete with sombrero, poncho and mustache is available every Halloween at party stores.”

      So this makes it automatically okay? If anything, this illustrates the pervasiveness of this issue in society, the fact that people think it’s okay to dress up as an entire race and use white privilege as a response to people being offended. You can’t use the cowboy analogy because white people are not oppressed.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Yeah, people also used to do blackface and that was considered socially acceptable. The factor of a costume being widespread should depress us, not excuse this type of behavior. And, uh, yeah–removing Native American costumes is definitely on that list, too.

      Contrary to popular belief, there are like 10 other costumes one can wear for Halloween, as well as at least 1 – 2 other themes for parties. (Just kidding, there are literally thousands.)

  • Anon

    A high school friend is in Delta Gamma at UCLA, and she recently posted a photo of a frat party she went to at Sigma Chi. The theme was “Sigma China.” They all wore silk dresses with mandarin collars, held paper umbrellas, and had chopsticks in their hair. The only thing I can say is thank GOD they didn’t do yellowface or, you know, put tape on the corners of their eyes or whatever. I go to college in ALABAMA and I still haven’t seen anything from our greek system as overtly racist as that.

    • jerome

      Learn the difference between racism and [negative] stereotyping is please.

    • Anon

      How about you turn your passive-aggressive, critical eye on the perpetrators of racist stereotypes rather than me- even if you’re correct, my worst crime was misusing a word. Get over it.

  • ken

    wow this use 2 be a free country now you can’t do anything because somebody might take it the wrong way. WTF WOW

    • gooodthings

      I’m guessing you’re probably white or really really ignorant.

    • j

      i think you meant AND really really ignorant

    • Deb

      What a wonderfully racist comment on a post that is exposing a racism issue. Cheers.

  • RONDOG@APhiB

    why do the few complainers, while the rest of us think its ok, get their way.especially if there is a punishment. thats whats wrong with this country. everyone is judgmental….GET OVER IT!!!!! All they should say is, “SORRY FOR PARTYING!!!!’

  • Claudia Esponda

    As a Mexican woman I can only feel bad for them. I hope that they didn’t did that party with the intention of bringing such a negative perspective from my country. At first when I saw the sombreros and the mustaches I thought ‘oh, what’s so wrong about wanting to have a Mexican party?’ THEN I saw the cardboard’s legends ‘I DON’T CUR GRASS I SMOKE IT’. I literally cried a little. Mexico is a beautiful place, in a very hard situation,fighting against drug trafficking, I don’t think they can even guess how many people dies every day because of it. So it makes me burn in anger how they joke about it. Being Mexican doesn’t mean we’re drug addicts, or some kind of poor servants. And the real problem is that they’re not the only persons who see Mexicans that way; I live in Nuevo Leon which is really close to the frontier and whenever you go to McAllen, Texas for shopping you get across many racist comments, some said right in your face because they think you can’t even speak english. They can apologize, it’s a great thing that they actually did, but the fact that they think of us that way is what an apology can’t change. Apologizing doesn’t change their ignorance. And the worst thing about all this is the lack of empathy between cultures. I don’t ask them to help my country fight drug trafficking, but at least they should treat us with respect, and realize we’re just people, because a country doesn’t define if you are a junkie or whatever they wrongly think about us, or if you are better or worse.

    • gooodthings

      ‘oh, what’s so wrong about wanting to have a Mexican party?’

      Everything, when most mexican themed parties are just a bastardized version of what it means to be Mexican, even without the signs, this party would have been offensive.

    • lucygoosey74

      When things like this go down, it honestly makes me ashamed to be white. Growing up, I had many Mexican American friends which gave me a great opportunity to learn about their rich culture and heritage. I thought of these girls when I saw the offensive picture and it made me feel sick.

  • hushsound44

    As a current Penn State student, all I can say is that yes, the “sorostitutes” can be ridiculously unthinking sometimes. I do not believe they did it to offend anyone, but they certainly did not think this one through. As with any college, there are some frats and sororities that do not represent the rest of the university body. This is definitely one of those cases! I don’t want to be judged by the silly actions of a small group of the PSU community. I sincerely hope they understand why this is offensive and rethink future theme parties.

  • Deb

    I don’t see what is so racists about the outfits. You’re getting in a huff about girls dressed in ponchos and sombreros? Why aren’t you going after all of the clothing companies and costume manufacturers who are actually creating the pieces? I think the signs are a little bit too much and in poor taste, but come on! Themed parties run rampant on college campuses. Put on your big girl pants on and let it slide.

  • Jerome

    To the writer:

    Learn what the difference between stereotyping and racism is.

    Saying that all Mexicans mow lawns or smoke weed or do what ever is being STEREOTYPICAL. (like saying all Asians are good at math)

    HATING/Disliking/Treating them in an unpleasant manner because you think all they do is mow lawns, smoke weed, etc, is racism.

    This was not a case of “racism”, it was case of *REALLY* poor taste with a side of ignorance.

  • John

    Mexican American Student Association, really??? I wonder if there is an European American Student Association or a Caucasian American Association on campus. It’s always amusing when a racist association accuses another group as being racist!!

  • Jerry

    People, grow up and get over your selfs. Kids having fun. We all have been made fun at from time to time. What about the hard drinking, fighting Irish? I do not drink or fight and I am Irish !!!!