Fraternity criticized for party

By Paolo Cisneros

Theme parties are nothing new to the Triangle Fraternity. The house hosts one every semester, but it was not until the most recent party on Feb. 2 that allegations of racism came into play.

While residents of the third and fourth floors chose 1970s and “Nightmare on Elm Street” themes respectively, students living on the second floor chose to model their space after the city of Compton, Calif.

“This particular incident was reported by a student who was friends with members of the Triangle Fraternity,” said Kaamilyah Abdullah-Span, assistant dean of students for Student Affairs and director of the University’s tolerance program. It was then that the University’s bias incident investigation team set to work gathering information and assessing the situation.

Photographs of students with 40-ounce liquor containers and gold chains aiming guns at other partygoers surfaced on Facebook in the days following the event.

“We had a number of complaints after those photos got out, and right now we’re in the process of responding to those complaints,” said Triangle Fraternity President David Muccigrosso, junior in LAS.

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Muccigrosso was quick to point out that despite the props used by some of the partygoers, no ethnic groups were specifically targeted through the use of makeup. The decision to model the floor after Compton came about as the result of many residents’ affinity for hip-hop culture, he said.

Anna Gonzalez, associate vice chancellor and director for Intercultural Relations, said her role in the ongoing investigation was to make the students involved aware of the implications their actions have on other members of the University campus.

Her office is one of several investigating the party.

Members of the Triangle Fraternity, she said, will undergo extended diversity training.

She added that their reaction toward the training has been positive.

“I can safely say that the (Triangle Fraternity) has come forward and wants to learn from their mistake,” she said. “They want to engage in learning about the issue at hand.”

Racially themed parties have taken place on campus before, which is why Gonzalez said she believes they are an institutional problem rather than isolated incidences.

“Conversations about this issue need to happen,” she said. “These parties have existed for a long time.”

Muccigrosso said he disagrees with the accusation that the party was racist, saying one race cannot claim ownership of an entire city.

“We felt it was racially neutral,” he said. “I can understand why some people might be upset. I don’t necessarily share their viewpoint, but I respect it.”

Community members should try to learn more about the Triangle Fraternity and its values before they begin to judge, Muccigrosso added.

“I think we deserve the chance for people to see that this was done in jest and not to target anyone,” he said. “That’s the difference between this and the ‘Tacos and Tequila’ party.”

Other members of the University community, however, feel the fraternity crossed the line by hosting the party.

“Many members of the community felt like this was a mockery of that city’s culture,” Abdullah-Span said. “For students who don’t come from that type of situation, to portray themselves in such a way is stereotyping.”

Muccigrosso said the Triangle Fraternity counts 33 students as members. One is black and no Latinos are represented.

The fraternity recently sent letters of apology to the University’s minority student associations, he added.

The investigation into the party is ongoing. Whether the fraternity will be sanctioned remains to be seen.

Terrell Starr contributed to this report