Greek party causes turmoil across campus

By Susan Kantor

A recent exchange between the University chapters of the Delta Delta Delta sorority and the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity has sparked a controversy because it played on ethnic stereotypes of Latinos. The exchange, which happened Oct. 5, had a “fiesta” theme, said Cassie Arner, alumnae adviser of the sorority.

A Tri Delta official said one of the women at the party made herself look pregnant, and that some of the women who attended unofficially dubbed the exchange “Tacos and Tequila.”

Ashanti Barber, member of Iskra, a social justice organization, and junior in LAS, said that the men at the party wore sombreros and ponchos and claimed to be illegal aliens or farmers.

Brandon Keene, ZBT chapter president, would not comment on the incident except to issue a written statement.

Arner would not comment on the nature of the party, but Emma Miller, president of the Tri Delta chapter, said that “some members behaved and dressed in a way that isn’t congruent to what (the Tri Delta sorority) try to educate our members to be like.”

Ashley Dye, assistant dean for fraternity and sorority affairs, said the department is looking into the incident.

“After the event was known by the staff of fraternity and sorority affairs, there was swift communication and action to learn more and to look into the case,” said Dye. “It is something that we are still communicating with students and organizations and advisers regularly. We are still taking it very seriously.”

Patty Garcia, president of the United Greek Council and senior in LAS, said that there is a problem when students create a theme that can offend another culture, but she said that the best thing to do right now is to create a dialogue between the different organizations.

Miller, junior in Communications, said that the Tri Delta sorority realized that the exchange was insensitive after it was over.

“Within the chapter, as soon as it happened, there was kind of a collective feeling that what happened was not right,” she said.

Miller sent Garcia an e-mail apologizing, and offering to open dialogue between the organizations. Miller and Keene attended a UGC meeting to apologize personally to the students in UGC organizations.

“People automatically think the Greeks have to deal with the problem and fix it,” Garcia said. “But it is a campuswide problem. By throwing all the responsibility on the Greeks, it’s minimizing the problem.”

Barber said that although UGC was apologized to, she would like to see a public apology issued.

Barber said she felt angry at first and then remembered when a similar event happened last year with a Greek exchange that had a “ghetto” theme.

“I thought, ‘Well, it is just happening again,'” Barber said. “It’s almost like it’s not even shocking anymore.”

However, members of both ZBT and Tri Delta said that it was not their intention to be offensive when planning the exchange.

“There was a theme that many considered to be innocent if taken that way,” Arner said. “Some members did abuse that theme and brought harm to the Hispanic community on campus.”

Keene said in a written statement that there were no reservations by the leadership about the theme before the exchange, but “the chapter regrets not interceding when this was recognized.”

Miller said the theme for the exchange went through a standards board evaluation for appropriateness, and the board did not think the party would be offensive.

Steven Rosado, senior in LAS and student events coordinator at La Casa Cultural Latina, 1203 W. Nevada St., said that he thinks the members of the organizations should have to attend forums on Latino culture to educate them. He said if nothing is done, it will be just a “slap on the wrist.”

Arner said that Tri Delta will not have any social events for the rest of the semester and are planning to spend the money on activities to build character in the chapter with activities such as community service. The chapter is also planning on working on events that will increase cultural awareness, she said.

Keene said in a written statement that ZBT is going to work with the counseling department in an effort to increase awareness so the organization can prevent similar events from taking place in the future.

Arner said mistakes are made every day and what ultimately matters is what is done to make amends.

“We can only take responsibility for what we have done and we are very prepared to do that,” Arner said.