ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – The University of Michigan reprimanded a mostly white fraternity Thursday for advertisements for a party that used derogatory words for women and stereotyped blacks.
The Ann Arbor school sent an email rebuking the Theta Xi chapter and saying it plans to impose sanctions on the fraternity over the now-canceled Nov. 7 event.
A Facebook invitation advertised the event as “World Star Hip Hop Presents: Hood Ratchet Thursday,” MLive.com reported. The invitation showed a photo of a black man holding a wad of cash and saying “we goin back to da hood again!!” among other things. It also contained messages that encouraged sexual promiscuity by women and used derogatory language to describe them.
“The language of the invitation and theme of the party denigrated all women and African American/black identified people through racial stereotypes and cultural appropriation,” said the email, signed by Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper. “This behavior is offensive, disrespectful and unacceptable at the University of Michigan. It is unhealthy and harms everyone in the community. It is in direct contradiction to the values, policies and expectations of the University and will not be tolerated.”
Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones said she held a meeting Wednesday with Greek Life Director Mary Beth Seiler, Interfraternity Council leaders and Eric Quang, Theta Xi’s president.
“Obviously, the way the party was both conceived of and executed is in direct contradiction to the standards of our university,” Jones told The Michigan Daily, the school’s student newspaper. She said the fraternity planned to issue an apology. Fraternity members who were gathered at the center of campus for an unrelated camp-out early Thursday declined comment, the Daily said.
Geralyn Gaines, an undergraduate student and secretary of the Black Student Union, said she felt “complete and utter disgust” at the event.
“I love U of M, and even today I’m fundamentally happy. But it’s scary to think that I sit in class with people who think this way and people that agree with them, people who legitimately thought this party was a good idea and was OK,” Gaines said. “The invitation amplified stereotypes and used a level of disgusting language that it was evident they actively tried to offend us.”
Quang later apologized in a written statement, saying the event “was not the result of a chapter decision, vote, or endorsement.”
“I would like to apologize to all of the members of our student body, including those of all ethnicities, and to all women, for our extraordinary lack of consideration, and lapse in judgment,” Quang wrote.
The national Theta Xi office is investigating and has suspended the local chapter from social events pending the outcome of that investigation. Ron Trucks, executive director of Theta Xi’s national chapter, said it was “an inappropriate invitation.”
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