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UC San Diego leaders condemn student party mocking Black History Month

UC San Diego leaders and civil rights activists have condemned a student party held Monday that mocked Black History Month with a ghetto-themed "Compton Cookout."

Campus administrators said Wednesday that they were investigating whether the off-campus party and its Facebook invitation violated the university’s code of conduct and whether its sponsors should be disciplined. Members of Pi Kappa Alpha were identified as among the organizers, but the fraternity president has criticized the event and said his club did not sponsor it.

In an e-mail to students and staff, UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said the party showed "blatant disregard of our campus values." She said the university would hold a teach-in next Wednesday "to discuss the importance of mutual respect and civility."

Penny Rue, vice chancellor for student affairs, said the probe would examine whether the fraternity was involved and whether it should face sanctions. She said that it was premature to discuss discipline for individual students but that she wanted partygoers to understand how much pain they had caused, especially to African American students.

Rue said she did not know how many people attended the event.

Promising a taste of "life in the ghetto," the Facebook invitation contained many racist stereotypes. For example, it urged women to dress as "ghetto chicks" who "usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes." It said the menu would include chicken and watermelon.

In an e-mail Wednesday, Garron Engstrom, president of Pi Kappa Alpha, emphasized that the party was not planned or endorsed by the club. "The fraternity regrets the display of ignorance and error-of-judgment made by any individual members who may have attended or were associated via social media with the racially offensive party," he wrote. "These actions are in direct violation of Pike’s code of conduct, and appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken."

History professor Danny Widener, who directs the African American studies program at the campus, said he was outraged but not surprised by the party. He said African American students make up less than 2% of undergraduates at UC San Diego, which he described as inhospitable to them. "The campus climate is one in which you are constantly regarded as a statistical anomaly at best," he said.

The professor also criticized Fox’s response as "tepid" and urged strong action against the party organizers, including expulsion if they are found to have used UC computers or facilities to send the invitation.

Chris Strudwick-Turner, vice president of the Los Angeles Urban League, also urged a tough response. "If campus climate is important, a message needs to be sent that this is not acceptable," she said.

In Sacramento, Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Compton) said leaders of the Legislature’s black, Latino, Asian-Pacific Islander, gay and women's caucuses would gather outside the Capitol on Thursday to condemn the party.

-- Larry Gordon

Comments () | Archives (19)

Sometimes, stereotypes are reflections on truth.

I see no big deal about it. They're just putting on a party that accurately describes what rap music lyrics say.

If anything this is celebrating black history month not mocking it.

This would have been funny 15 or so years ago, but these stereo types are played out now and, unfortunately, provide more fuel for the oversensitive racism whiners.

Plus, most black girl dress real nice and take good care of themselves. They do have a point about that Baby Phat crap though.

Nevertheless, people need to lighten up, laugh -or gasp- and move on. There's nothing wrong with humor.

Sadly, these are the people who will be in "hiring seat" in a few years. How much of their bigotry will they bring into the corporate world? How much do you bring?

Funny stuff.

This party theme is NOT funny. I wouldn't necessarily promote expulsion for the students involved but I think they should be required to attend cultural sensitivity/awareness training if they want to remain students at San Diego.

People with these types of attitudes are ill prepared to take their place in our increasingly global society. They need to be educated.

Stupid thing to do, however I do have one question: when people of color are slain for real in the real Compton, are these sanctimonious folks outraged then? If so, haven't heard them speaking up.

Yep the stereo type was NOT created by any group other than the blacks. Just like their are very funny stereotypes of whites, latinos, asian etc. This "one way" about how the blacks can't laugh at people and members of their families they have known all their lives is just ridiculous!

I think that cook out would have been fun and see no reason why anyone who is secure with who they are would be offended. Let's lighten up.

I would be more than happy to go, dress up and have a blast. A little more laughter at ourselves goes a long way at getting along and leaving the PAST IN THE PAST. Time to move on my brothers & sisters.

Bottom line we are all NOT equal! No matter how many times people say it the fact is some people are rich some poor, some ugly some beautiful, some are smart, some are very stupid, some are nice some not nice, some are givers others just take, some contribute to our society other just rip other off etc etc etc. AND we all do NOT have the same opportunities. That goes for all races. FACT!

Go to any street in this country that is named Martin Luther King Drive/Street/ Highway and you will find the most crime, lowest income residents and ZERO pride in the neighborhood! Gee whose fault is that?

BTW I am a black man.

Not funny, stupid, but not a disciplinary matter for the University. What happened to the First Amendment and freedom of expression? Are we punishing people from getting crazy drunk and wearing green on St. Patrick's Day? That's a stereotype I find offensive. At the same time, I can't begin to think of having the University thought police intervene and require "retraining."

Be real and get a life! It's just a party.

you can't please everyone so you gotta please yourself.says it all.

Gary C: good point. Yes, these folks will be doing hiring in the future. I've seen it happen up close.

It's San Diego. What do you expect?

There are some things that just aren't funny.. when there is a victim to anyone's humor, it becomes bigotry.

Why wasn't i invited ?

This is a complicated situation..........there have been at least a few movies that blatantly display racial stereotyping but I can't think of the titles just now.
One took place in a barber shop some years ago and was criticized as showing this racist stereotyping. And then of course there are the well known African American comedians(i.e., the late Richard Pryor and Chris Rock)who delight in racial joking. And so now we have this frat party doing essentially the same thing. This isn't intended to justify the party at all but just to show that in one context it seems OK to do the racial "mocking" yet in another it's a blatant display of racial "insensitivity."

Unfortunately, these are more than likely individuals that have never been to Compton but have fallen victim to the media's portrayal of a City that is re-inventing itself.

This should not surprise anyone that a lot of White people are still very racist, now even more so since white is no longer the dominate culture in America. Please don't stop your ignorant rants and ravings continue to expose yourselves for your childrens sake.

It's sad to see some of the poster comments to be so insensitive, keeping African Americans back by 300 years or so. If there was a party condeming Euro-Americans, rest assured there would also be heat from that as well..

What I find really disturbing is that the university has a "black student union". If the white students were to have a union named "white student union", everyone would be screaming racism. How is not racist?


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