I want to address a photo that has surfaced in the Penn State community recently.
The photo features sisters of the Chi Omega Nu Gamma chapter. These Penn State students are wearing sombreros and fake black moustaches, donning multi-colored serapes, and holding maracas. Additionally, the students are seen holding two signs: one reads “Will mow lawn for weed and beer” and the other, “I don’t cut grass I smoke it.” This display is absolutely racist and it perpetuates stereotypes about Mexicans, Latinos and Hispanics that are untrue. The photo in question has been circulated widely on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr where it received over 700 notes within less than 24 hours.
Sororities are an example of the student community and at all times should be committed to social responsibility. Our university must be presented in the most positive light. When our university is already in a vulnerable position after the Sandusky child rape scandal that broke last Fall, it is even more reprehensible that a respected sorority on campus would allow it’s sisters to display such an irrefutable display of racism.
Chi Omega Nu Gamma is not the first chapter of the Greek system to channel racial epithets in themed parties, nor will they be the last. In theory college is a place where young people go to broaden their minds to different ideas but the reality tells us a different story. The existence of these parties is evidence to show that the United States is far from achieving a post-racial society.
Let us remember that “May no act of ours bring shame,” is in the Penn State alma mater. According to a U.S. News index, Penn State is ranked 193rd for campus ethnic diversity. As with previous issues of controversy, the Penn State administration has done a poor job of properly addressing the situation. I am asking the readers of Feministing to circulate this story and the photo so that we can pressure the University to make the correct judgement in handling racial insensitivity on campus. Something has to change.