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.