The “racist rager” parties organized across U.S. college campuses shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore.

But a recent “phi-esta” party planned by members of a fraternity at the University of Southern California (USC) caught my eye for two reasons: 

1) It was a Mexican-themed event and the USC campus is literally surrounded by Latinos: the communities that surround USC are all predominantly Latino. The most recent Census data also found Latinos make up 47.7% of the population in Los Angeles, with Mexicans making up the majority of the group. 

2) A Mexican-American USC student saw a flyer for the party and wrote an op-ed in the school newspaper. She shut the party down, got the frat that was throwing the party to apologize and had the members organizing the event expelled from the fraternity.

According to the op-ed written by Melissa Morales the invitation invited party-goers to “bring their ‘sombreros and accentos to a night of classy fun.’”

Here’s an excerpt from the op-ed written Morales, a junior at USC studying political science.

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.

Is this what Mexican culture has been reduced to? An entire country, an entire people, an entire tradition is recognized solely by negative stereotypes. Is it not possible to hold a party without the predictably offensive costumes and mocking accents? Will it be less of a good time if guests refrain from obvious racism? I highly doubt it.

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.

Though I find this event to be utterly disrespectful, I mostly just find it disappointing. I refuse to believe that other students on the USC campus — other members of the Trojan family — can be so ignorant and reckless. We live in Southern California with one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the country, yet we still face situations like these.

If you read this and think I am overreacting, then I am sorry for you. I am sorry that you do not understand.

The president of Pi Kappa Phi Spencer Weissberg responded with his own op-ed addressed to his “fellow Trojans:

On behalf of the brothers of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, I would like to apologize for the insensitive statements made on the Facebook event description for our “Phiesta.”

We recognize that these statements were offensive and we want to take full accountability for the insensitivity of our actions. The statements made were not only offensive to Latinos and Hispanics, but to everyone in the Trojan Family. The brothers of Pi Kappa Phi recognize that our actions are unbecoming of the values of the Trojan community, and that, furthermore, our actions represent this university, as well as our national fraternity and Greek Life as a whole. We deeply regret having misrepresented our national fraternity and USC in this manner. Additionally, I would like to mention and thank USC Junior Melissa Morales, who, in writing a thoughtful letter to the Daily Trojan that accurately criticized our insensitivity, embodied the Trojan values of sticking to one’s beliefs.

Weissberg went on to say “the individuals who were responsible for the Facebook event and the insensitive statements are being held responsible and will be facing expulsion from the fraternity. It is my hope that these individuals, and all of my brothers, will use this opportunity to grow as human beings.”

Meanwhile, Morales is now getting a lot of criticism from fellow students because she “may have likely ruined an otherwise good time for many people.”

Even though both op-ed’s offered context and explained why these parties are offensive there are dozens of comments on Morales’ opinion piece that argue she should have stayed quiet.

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/02/usc_frat_planned_a_racist_rager_but_a_mexican-american_student_put_them_on_blast.html


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