A fraternity at the University of Texas-Austin is under fire for allegedly throwing a "border patrol" themed party over the weekend.
Members of Phi Gamma Delta, also known as Fiji, hosted what was officially billed as a "Western" themed party on Saturday. But attendees were advised that the theme was "border patrol," reported The Daily Texan, the university's student newspaper.
Party goers reportedly donned ponchos, sombreros and construction gear adorned with names like "Pablo Sanchez."
Fraternity president Andrew Campbell told The Daily Texan that Fiji did not intend to "alienate or demean any ethnic group," but that's exactly what some in the community have accused the fraternity of doing.
"It's not about an 'offensive' truth, it's about trivializing the real culture and identity of many students at UT for something as stupid as a fraternity party," wrote a commenter identifying himself as UTXguy on the school paper's website. "If you can't understand that, then you are part of the problem."
In an emailed statement to Fusion, Campbell said:
The members of Phi Gamma Delta apologize to our fellow students, the University administration and the Austin community for any offensive behavior or attire at our social event on Saturday, February 7.
While the party was intended to have a Western or Old West theme, there were elements and dress that were insensitive and inappropriate. We understand why people were and are offended.
We have learned an important lesson about planning and conducting our social events and other activities as responsible members of the University and Austin communities. We commit to work with the office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to plan programs to educate our members and reinforce the lessons from this unfortunate incident.
The university had received at least nine complaints about the party as of Monday evening, a spokeswoman with the university's Division of Diversity and Community Engagement told Fusion. The Division of Student Affairs, which works with the school's Greek system, will review the party, as will the Campus Climate Response Team, tasked with responding to allegations of bias, the spokeswoman said.
On Monday, the response team released an overview of the bias complaints the university received last school year. The team fielded 670 complaints, an increase of more than 700 percent from the previous year. Most of the complaints were related to two events - an "affirmative action" bake sale and a "catch an illegal immigrant" event.
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.