Penn State Sorority Under Investigation for Racist Mexican Costume Pictures

Looks like Halloween 2012 was the year of sorority sisters dressing up in racist Mexican costumes with sombreros, sarapes, mustaches, black shoe polish, and signs that say "Green Card," "I don't cut grass, I smoke it," and "Will mow lawn for weed and beer." Just as we were starting to file away a story from Baylor University involving the many of the aforementioned items (plus your very own border fence!), a story out of Penn State says that the college's chapter of Chi Omega sorority is now being investigated for the following photo, which appeared on Tumblr:

As Penn State's Daily Collegian reports:

Due to the discovery of an “offensive” photo by the Penn State Panhellenic Council, one sorority at Penn State is under investigation by the PHC's executive board, according to a statement released by the board.

Jessica Riccardi, the president of the Nu Gamma chapter of Chi Omega, confirmed that her sorority was under investigation by releasing an apology.

"Our chapter of Chi Omega sincerely apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes. The picture in question does not support any of Chi Omega’s values or reflect what the organization aspires to be," Riccardi (junior-marketing) said.

The Panhellic Council said the following in a statement, according to OnwardState.com:

“The Penn State Panhellenic Council recognizes the offensive nature of the photo and is therefore taking the matter very seriously. We are addressing the situation immediately with the members of the chapter in conjunction with their national headquarters. The Penn State Panhellenic Council does not condone any form of derogatory behavior from any of our members. Our Council and all its members strive to hold ourselves to a high standard and are disappointed by any failure to meet these expectations.”

OnwardState.com also ran a statement by Penn State's Mexican American Student Association:

The Mexican American Student Association is disappointed in the attire chosen by this sorority. It in no way represents our culture. Not only have they chosen to stereotype our culture with serapes and sombreros, but the insinuation about drug usage makes this image more offensive. Our country is plagued by a drug war that has led to the death of an estimated 50,000 people, which is nothing to be joked about.

UPDATE, December 5, 10:45 EST: Yahoo! News reported that it received a statement from Penn State. Here is what the statement said:

"This photo has been brought to our attention, and we have looked into the issue," Lisa Powers, director of public information at Penn State, said in a statement to Yahoo News.

"The students in the photo are within their First Amendment rights to express themselves in this way," Powers said.

"Although we are certainly appalled that they would display this level of insensitivity and lack of judgment."

Furthermore, Powers added, "These costumes and this group do not represent fraternity and sorority life at Penn State, nor the 95,000 students who attend our university. The Chi Omega sorority sisters have expressed deep remorse over this incident."

There are First Amendment rights, and then there is being ignorant. Ignorant people still have a right to free speech. Just don't post it on the public Internet if you don't want a reaction.

10 comments
mausros81
mausros81

This is dumb. The signs are racist, granted. The wearing sombreros and whatnot is not racist though. People have Caribbean themed parties, wear those stupid hats with the dreadlocks attached, play steel-drum music and drink outta coconuts and no one says a word. Lose the signs and the party was fine. 

Zack S
Zack S

Seriously why is this a big deal? I'm in full support of XO. Cracking a few mexican jokes is nothing to shake a stick at. "Ohhh I'm so offended because I'm mexican and you're wearing a poncho." Bitch do I get offended when you put on a Polo shirt?

Zack S
Zack S

Seriously why is this a big deal? I'm in full support of XO. Cracking a few mexican jokes is nothing to shake a stick at. "Ohhh I'm so offended because I'm mexican and you're wearing a poncho." Bitch do I get offended when you put on a Polo shirt?

IdahoLatino
IdahoLatino

There is Chi Omega Sorority promoting some of the stereotypes the media makes of us. I cannot believe how low you can go Chi Omega. I also strongly support the Mexican American Student Association in their denouncing of this racial attack on the Latino Community. It saddens me that some of the ladies in this image are also Latinas. We cannot let this pass, in our campus we have other organizations (that in my opinion are organizations of hate -- Youth For Western Civilization) that are attacking our community and it saddens me that we also have to look out for sororities/fraternities. In our campus we have also seen fraternities and sororities dressed up as "mexicans" for halloween and this should stop. So I thank the Mexican American Student Association for taking action. I really hope that their chapter is taking out of that campus so that others can learn a lesson: that racism in a campus, or anywhere else, is not an option.

UtahHispano
UtahHispano

I share your pain IdahoLatino, its devastating to see how a group of people can be so ignorant. Not only do I feel pity for them, but it makes me aware of how ignorant some people can be. I would also like to show my support to Penn State's Mexican American Student Association, please don't let this go by. This is the first step into making a change.

UtahHispano
UtahHispano

Its devastating to see such action. Not only is this offensive but it degrates themselves. It would crime to leave this without taking any action. Insteading of thinking this is a funny matter, we should realize how much harm we are causing to others.

DignityPeace
DignityPeace

Not sure who is uncovering these cases (Baylor & Penn State), but I am sure there are many more of these out there from Halloween. I think next Fall I will get involved with costume awareness around campus. So many of my Latino students are first generation students and they really stick together and are involved in their student organizations. I don't want them to feel cut down by this stuff.

UtahHispano
UtahHispano

@Zack S- How is a polo offensive to anyone? A polo shirt is an item that everyone wears.However, when you wear something that only a ethinic group wears, and your making fun of it then it becomes offensive. Your argument is not valid. Its not only the outfit they are wearing, is their writing and stereotypical look they are petraying. Its creating an image for a whole country, which is not entirely true.Because Mexico as any other country has many different cultures within. "Cracking a few Mexican jokes" - I dont see any joke in this, people like you its what makes this country the way it is, very unwelcoming, critical, and ignorant. Learn to see the other side of the picture, its not me againts you, its you against us. Please, educate yourself because believe me that I am trying my best to understand how people like you think.

DignityPeace
DignityPeace

@IdahoLatino The student associations can make statements, but I really feel that the action needs to come from the administrators and those who are professionally paid to deal with these issues. The students come to school to learn and receive an education. Certainly, the associations are in the right place to make statements and bring awareness to administrators, but we know college is tough enough without having this crap to deal with this kind of crap. Student associations should focus on promoting achievement.

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