A fraternity at UT is having a PR nightmare after throwing a party guests say was “border-patrol themed,” according to a report from The Daily Texan.
Phi Gamma Delta, or Texas Fiji, threw the party at their mansion-esque chapter house, just north of the University campus, on Saturday night. According to Julia Brouillette’s article in the Texan, guests showed up wearing “construction gear, ponchos, and sombreros.” Others wore hard hats and nametags labeled “Jefe” and “Pablo Sanchez.” Brouillette also writes that the bar was painted to look like the Mexican flag, with the shape of Texas in the middle.
Based on what Andrew Campbell, the chapter’s current president, said to The Daily Texan, it was all just a big misunderstanding! Texas Fiji members were told in an email before the party that the theme was Western, “not south of the border or anything Mexican related.” Why an email memo clarifying that the theme is definitely not racist was necessary is a little unclear, but hey, you do you, Campbell.
Texas fraternities and sororities are kind of notorious for throwing “border crossing” or “fiesta-themed” parties. Back in September 2012, the UT chapter of Alpha Tau Omega cancelled it’s “Fiestau” party after students reacted negatively to a planned event that involved guests crossing an obstacle, meant to represent the U.S.-Mexico border. That same month, two UT sororities, Delta Delta Delta and Zeta Tau Alpha, threw a joint “fiesta-themed” party, where guests showed up wearing ponchos, sombreros, and fake mustaches. In 2014 Gawker reported that Texas Tech’s chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha allegedly threw a “border-patrol bash.”
University officials have made it clear that racism, bias, and intolerance are unacceptable, and according to a post uploaded yesterday to UT’s official Tumblr account, officials with the Campus Climate Response Team are investigating complaints related to Saturday’s Fiji party.
Included in that Tumblr post is a handy two-page guide, provided by the dean of students, for planning your next appropriately themed party. The guide is meant to be used by sororities and fraternities, but it has some great advice for anyone planning a theme party in the future. Some appropriate themes listed in the guide include pajama jam (NO skimpy lingerie), Viva Las Vegas, Once Upon A Time (fairytales), and Outer Space/Aliens.
Some of the inappropriate themes include Ghetto Fabulous/”Urban”/G’d Up, Golf Pros and Tennis Hos (just say NO to anything involving the word “ho”), Gnarly on a Harley, Headmasters and Schoolgirls, South of the Border/Fiesta, and Lingerie (a.k.a., let’s get women to wear as little as possible)—basically nothing that could possibly encourage racist or sexist attire.
The guide urges you, as you’re planning your next themed event, to ask yourself a few simple questions to avoid winding up in national headlines as Texas Fiji did. Take a few minutes to pause and consider whether or not your theme relies “on stereotypes of certain groups or encourages offensive costumes,” and most importantly, if you would “be willing to send photos of your event to your parents, your national office, the campus newspaper, or campus administrators.”
Photo by Julia Brouillette