A racist sorority photo depicting the group posing as Mexicans with two girls in the front holding up signs with racial slurs on them has Penn State students and faculty outraged.
The photo is believed to have been taken around Halloween, but the costumes were far from spooky or funny once the group created two signs with racially driven insulting slogans on them.
The Chi Omega sorority is being investigated after posting the picture of all them dressed in mustaches and sombreros while two girls hold up signs reading “Will mow lawn for weed + beer” and “I don’t cut grass I smoke it.”
An independent Penn State blog broke the story after the photo began circulating on Facebook and Tumblr and several girls from the sorority were tagged in the picture.
The president of the sorority, Jessica Riccardi has sense made a public apology about the photo.
“Our chapter of Chi Omega sincerely apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes,” Riccardi said. “The picture in question does not support any of Chi Omega’s values or reflect what the organization aspires to be.”
While the apology is certainly appreciated, it may be too much to take back the damage that has been done.
“The Penn State Panhellenic Council recognizes the offensive nature of the photo and is therefore taking the matter very seriously,” the executive board said in a statement. “We are addressing the situation immediately with the members of the chapter in conjunction with their national headquarters. Our council and all its members strive to hold ourselves to a high standard and are disappointed by any failure to meet these expectations.”
Despite just how offensive the photo is, Penn State’s public relations director Lisa Powers did point out that the girls are welcome to their freedom of expression.
“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,” Powers explained.
Consequences for the girls have not been decided but the University wants to make this a “teachable moment” to help engage the sorority in becoming more knowledgeable about different cultures.
The president of the Penn State Latino Caucus seemed to agree.
“In terms of the Latino Caucus, the portrayal of sombreros, ponchos and mustaches are a huge over simplification of what not only the Mexican but the Latino culture is like,” said Ariel Coronel, the president of the Latino organization. “It’s being culturally ignorant, and I really do hope that the sorority tries to become culturally aware so this type of incident doesn’t happen again and that people will realize that this is racially and culturally insensitive.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.