The University of Texas has declined to sanction or punish the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, aka “Fiji,” for the“Border Patrol”-themed party they held that mocked stereotypes of Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans.
Anglo students attended in sombreros, ponchos, and construction gear, and sported name tags reading “El Jefe” on dudes that probably weren’t named Jeff. Here’s an image:
The news broke via Twitter in response to a student inquiry. The replies are also worth a read and a reminder that not all Longhorns think this kind of thing is Ok.
@imnothoracio While the behavior doesn’t mirror UT core values, it’s within students’ right to freedom of speech at private off campus event
— UT Austin (@UTAustin) February 27, 2015
This is very far from the first racist incident at Fiji. As we published previously:
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.
Perhaps the administration simply lacks the cojones (or ovarios) to take action against the (usually) affluent (usually) white students. But take heed, UT:
Here’s how the play of events usually goes:
- Student organization holds event that is easily and widely interpreted as racist (or at best, wildly ignorant and not befitting a purported institution of higher learning).
- Students — especially those whose culture is being mocked in between keg stands and jello shots — react, speak out, and protest against the event.
- Other students (usually Anglos) claim that it’s “not a big deal” and “like, not offensive.”
- The University makes a statement, and though they are faced with actual sanctions — starting with banning the frat from the university — they don’t do anything.
- Cycle continues.
The handy “two-page PDF guide” distributed to groups about how to avoid throwing a racially insensitive, offensive, or inflammatory event evidently isn’t doing the trick, so UT needs to stop touting that as any meaningful redress, sit the kids down, and actually teach them something about life in a diverse society.
UT can and should do better. They have tools at their disposal to send a strong message that this campus is no place for racial bias. A two-page PDF doesn’t cut it.
Since there seems to be no end to these events, UT needs to figure out how to actually do better when this inevitably occurs again. And hey, if the Legislature has their way, maybe next time it’ll involve guns.