Another day, another story about a fraternity causing a mini-crisis on a college campus by hosting a "racist" party.
This time it's Pi Kappa Phi at USC who was planning a 'Phi-esta' party. Apparently they learned absolutely nothing from Duke's Kappa Sigma "Asia Prime" controversy or Penn State's Chi Omega Mexican fiesta. It sounds like your average, run-of-the mill Cinco De Mayo party, except people took things too far promoting the party on Facebook and around campus. Now people at USC are pretty upset about the theme party, especially Melissa Morales who wrote into The Daily Trojan:
The brothers of Pi Kappa Phi are holding a “phi-esta.” That in itself does not seem too concerning, but when accompanied by a blatantly racist photo and a statement saying that partygoers should bring their “sombreros and accentos to a night of classy fun,” the mockery starts to peek through. The description then goes on to clear up any confusion about what to wear by encouraging viewers to look to the photo depicting two shirtless Mexican men in sombreros for inspiration.
I love a fiesta and a good margarita as much as the next girl, but not when it is just an excuse to make racist jokes and poke fun at a different culture. There is a big difference between celebrating a culture and mocking it.
A few hours after the event was posted, the description was edited to include “what not to expect”: “border patrol, pickpockets, those kids selling you chicle gum, [and] Montezuma’s Revenge.” Classy, indeed.
It is offensive that race is so easily used as a party theme. This is not the first “fiesta” and I am sure that it will not be the last, but I’m not waiting for the party to be over before I speak up. I’m not waiting for the pictures of drawn-on mustaches, illegal immigrants and gardeners to make the rounds on Facebook. I’m not waiting for my heritage to be ridiculed before I start my protest.
This is my protest. This is me speaking up for what I believe in. This is me taking a stand.
As a result of the outrage, Pi Kappa Phi has canceled the party.
Having published three similar stories in the past six months, I have a question: Would people at USC -- and elsewhere -- still be upset if these theme parties were just organized house parties as opposed to something organized by a fraternity? Because as any socially-outgoing GDI at a hard-partying big college can tell you, these sort of themed parties aren't limited just to fraternities. Why haven't we heard about the outrage of a townhouse/apartment/bar crawl party that was just -- if not more -- offensive to someone else on campus? It almost seems like 85% of the outrage is over the fact the party is being hosted by a Greek organization rather than the cultural insensitivity issues.
This is just a theory of course, but I'm curious if anyone else out there feels the same way. Thoughts? Comments, please. We've posted a lot of USC Pi Kappa videos in the past. Looks like they know how to have a good time, I guess:
PIc via USC Pi Kappa Phi Twitter.