Quad protest targets racial stereotyping

In front, Teresa Ramos, graduate student, marches down Fourth Street in front of the ZBT house to protest the Tacos and Tequila exchange the fraternity held with the Delta Delta Delta sorority. Suzanne Stelmasek The Daily Illini

In front, Teresa Ramos, graduate student, marches down Fourth Street in front of the ZBT house to protest the “Tacos and Tequila” exchange the fraternity held with the Delta Delta Delta sorority. Suzanne Stelmasek The Daily Illini

By Susan Kantor

With signs reading “The fight is far from over” and “My culture is not a costume,” hundreds of students filled the Quad side of the Illini Union this afternoon for a rally entitled “Breaking the Silence.”

The rally was organized by Students Transforming Oppression and Privilege (STOP). The purpose was to get the University administration’s attention regarding racist actions across campus that were exemplified in the Oct. 5 exchange between the Delta Delta Delta sorority and the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity unofficially dubbed “Tacos and Tequila.”

“We are not attacking the Tri Delts or ZBT,” said Wendy Marie Finley, member of STOP and junior in LAS. “We are attacking the system. We are just using them as an example.”

Students spoke against the racist actions during the rally on the Quad before students walked to both the Tri Delta and ZBT houses chanting phrases such as “hey hey, ho ho, racism has got to go.”

Tri Delta and ZBT representatives declined to comment.

“We have had enough,” said Osvaldo Torres, sophomore in LAS and member of Lambda Theta Phi, a United Greek Council Latin fraternity, the Mexican Student Association. “We will no longer be disrespected on this campus. Our cultures will no longer be mocked. We will no longer be made fun of. We will no longer be told that we don’t deserve to be here. And it all starts with one step. And that is unifying ourselves.”

The rally ended at the Swanlund Administration Building, 601 E. John St., where a statement by Chancellor Herman was read by Renee Romano, vice chancellor for Student Affairs.

“The controversy has spurred a great deal of conversation about treating one another with common decency, and that is good,” Herman said in his statement. “The process of reviewing the incident is now underway, and I believe a deeper appreciation of our cultural diversity and individual responsibility will be the result.”

After Romano read the statement, some students asked why the administration did not speak on the Quad, what is going to be done to ensure minority students have a safe environment, why nothing was done last year when a “ghetto”-themed party occurred and what would have been the response if a multi-cultural Greek organization held a party of a similar nature.

“I want to assure you that we are listening, we care, and this incident does not reflect the University’s values,” Romano said. “We are working through our system. It’s not happening quickly and many of you are not aware of what is going on.”

Romano also said there are plans including diversity education for all first-year students and the administration is working hard to get these classes implemented by next fall.

Lisa Moore, assistant dean of students, said the University has not sanctioned Tri Delta or ZBT because the Board of Fraternity Affairs and the Board of Sorority Affairs was given the power to discipline when chapters violate policy.

“Everything ZBT and Tri Delta have done are self-imposed sanctions,” Moore said.

Moore also said that although the event was unacceptable, there were no code violations in the student code. She said they will have to see when the hearing is scheduled.

Nora Garcia, member of Lambda Pi Upsilon, a United Greek Council sorority, and senior in LAS, said she was upset that ZBT and Tri Delta did not think it would be a racial stereotype. She said that the administration needs to be aware that the minority student population is fed up and does not plan to let these actions go unnoticed.

“It is time for a change,” Torres said. “It is time for us to step back, to put our egos aside, to put our organizations behind us, to put our letters behind us, to step up together to unify ourselves and to stand up as one voice to speak out at this university.”

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1. Patrick Traylor The Daily Illini

(From left) Washina Ford, sophomore in LAS, and Ivone Gutierrez, senior in LAS, applaud a speaker at a rally against racism on campus in front of the Illini Union on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 31. Protesters walked from the Union and past the Tri Delta and ZBT Greek houses and ended at the Swanlund Administration Building on John Street.

2. Dan Hollander The Daily Illini

Senior in LAS Kevin Knazze address a large crowd at an anti-racism rally organized by S.T.O.P. (Students Transforming Oppresion and Privilege) on the Quad Tuesday at noon October 31st 2006. The rally, which later moved to protest the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity and the Delta Delta Delta sorotiy because of their recent questionably themed event on October 5th, focused on the recent events of racism as indicators of a much larger, systemic problem. “This rally lets the public know the students views, and that this isn’t an issolated istance” said Kevin.

3. Patrick Traylor The Daily Illini

Associate Chancellor for Pubic Affairs, Robin Kaler (Right) addresses protestors outside the Swanlund Administration on John Street in Champaign on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 31. Students Transforming Oppression and Privilege organized the rally in reaction to the questionable nature of a party held on on October 5th by the Tri Delta sorority and ZBT Fraternity. The rally, according to organizers, was not meant as an attack on either Greek house, but used the recent event as an example of institutional racism present on campus.

4. Patrick Traylor The Daily Illini

Washina Ford, sophomore in LAS, holds a sign outside the Swanlund Administration Building on John Street in Champaign on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 31 during a protest against racism on campus. “Why can’t you come to us. Why do we have to come to you? Why weren’t you marching with us?” shouted Ford as administrators adressed the crowd.

5. Suzanne Stelmasek The Daily Illini

Mirelsie Velázquez, PhD student, Marlyn Rodriguez, senior in LAS, and Teresa Ramos, graduate student, hold signs in protest of stereotyping and racial discrimination on the Quad on Tuesday afternoon. The rally was instigated by an exchange held by the Delta Delta Delta sorority and the ZBT fraternity called “Tacos and Tequila” which depicted racial stereotypes.

6. Suzanne Stelmasek The Daily Illini

In front, Teresa Ramos, graduate student, marches down Fourth Street in front of the ZBT house to protest the “Tacos and Tequila” exchange the fraternity held with the Delta Delta Delta sorority.