Last weekend, the Texas Fiji (Phi Gamma Delta) fraternity hosted a border patrol-themed party. It’s not hard to guess what kinds of garb the guests chose — and you don’t have to, as there are pictures. “The University takes those incidents very seriously,” Erica Saenz, associate vice president of the University of Texas Division of Diversity & Community Engagement, told KVUE. “It’s unfortunate because we are trying to promote a campus climate that is welcoming and inclusive for all and when these incidents happen they just kind of set us back a little bit.”
Shouldn’t a university taking this “very seriously” administer serious punishment? A theme like this counters value-centric efforts to foster an inclusive campus. Especially at a Texas university, jokey degradation of Mexican and Mexican-American culture should be treated appropriately, not simply spoken to sternly. In 2012, this blog broke news of a racially questionable sorority “fiesta” party, in which patrons mocked Mexicans and wore “ILLEGAL” and “BORDER PATROL” shirts. In 2013, the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity decked its fences in sexually degrading phrases next to drawings of female subjects and the university refrained from punishment.
Texas Fiji, hosted in a 113-year-old colonial revival house, was only hosting “western-themed party which focuses on the traditional old west,” according to the chapter president Andrew Campbell. It’s not hard to guess what that really means the theme was; guests say it was specifically “border patrol”.
UT social justice group Society for Unity has identified various breadloaves leading up to this shameful moment for the fraternity. In 1989, 5 Fijis attacked a Latino family sitting in a van because the students thought they were homeless, and thus deserving of assault. In 1990, Texas Fiji’s lawn supported a “No Blacks Allowed” sign during a parade in which fraternity brothers handed out “Sambo” t-shirts. A thousand from the university community protested against Fiji in response. In 2007, an alleged Fiji pledge guide surfaced that specified “no fagetry,” “no interracial dating” and “no Mexicans”. This year, in addition to this offense, it appears a Fiji party served as the site of a girl getting punched and sent to the hospital.
What actions do you think the UT administration should take against Fiji? Tell us in the comments.