News Column

Penn State Sorority Offends Hispanics

Dec 6, 2012

Mike Dawson

A photo of Penn State sorority sisters at a Mexican-themed party, decked out in ponchos and fake mustaches and holding up signs about marijuana some are calling insensitive to Mexican people has them in hot water.

The photo, which surfaced earlier this week after it was posted to a student blog, shows a group of about 20 college-age women wearing outfits for the party, reportedly around Halloween. The women are in the sorority Chi Omega.

Two of the women are holding up signs: "will mow lawn for weed + beer" and "I don't cut grass I smoke it."

The photo went viral. The sorority's parent organization is said to be investigating, and Penn State officials were appalled at the students' behavior.

The photo has made headlines in the Huffington Post (see photo), Daily Mail in the United Kingdom and Fox News.

Jessica Riccardi, the president of the sorority, told The Daily Collegian that the sorority is under investigation by its parent organization.

She apologized, saying "the Nu Gamma Chapter of Chi Omega sincerely apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes. The pictures in question do not support any of Chi Omega's values, nor do they reflect what our organization aspires to be."

Penn State officials were disappointed by the photo.

"The students in the photo are within their First Amendment rights to express themselves in this way, although we are certainly appalled that they would display this level of insensitivity and lack of judgment," university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said.

"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 incident will be a "teachable moment," Powers said, for the university to have the women discuss their actions and talk to them about diversity issues.

Source: (c)2012 the Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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