We have recently learned about Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI)’s “Western-Themed” party, where people who were invited to attend were told it was a "border patrol" party and were seen wearing sombreros, ponchos, and other "traditional Mexican" paraphernalia. Although "the chapter did not endorse insensitivity," this, unfortunately, is not the first, nor the second time, similar “themed” parties have been hosted by student organizations at The University of Texas at Austin.
On September 25, 2012, a Letter of Concern was written in response to Alpha Tau Omega and their attempt to host a "Crossing the Border" party. A few days prior, Zeta Tau Alpha and Delta Delta Delta had their annual “Zeta-Tri Delt Fiesta Party” where students were also seen dressed in ponchos and sombreros, as well as shirts that read “illegal” and/or “border patrol.” These events are not only seen as offensive to members of the Latino community because they present negative and hurtful stereotypes, but they degrade members of other communities as well. In addition, Texas Tribe held a party named "Cowboys and Indians" where they dressed up as Native Americans and were seen making offensive hand gestures and engaging in harmful stereotypes. We do recognize that these are not the only organizations on campus who have planned these events, but they are some of the ones who received the most publicity. Moreover, the members of these organizations are supposed to be setting the standard for their new members, as well as what members of other organizations consider acceptable.
Just as Alpha Tau Omega, Zeta Tau Alpha, Delta Delta Delta and Texas Tribe began to take ownership for their actions, Phi Gamma Delta must take the lead in setting a positive and inclusive atmosphere by moving away from throwing these types of themed parties. Instead, they should focus on events that celebrate the richness and diversity of the student body rather than single out particular groups for ridicule.
We have created this petition in order to express our concern at the reoccurrence of these themed parties and to ask for your support in denouncing these parties. Moreover, it is our goal that The University of Texas at Austin actually implement proper repercussions for organizations who choose to partake in such activities that promote the ridicule of different cultures. There has to be an end to these parties.