The 2014 '30 Under 30'

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Duke fraternity’s racist “Asia Prime” party puts Greek community behavior back under scrutiny

Animal House or just animals?

A fraternity at Duke University was suspended this week after throwing a racist Asian-themed party. The fraternity, Kappa Sigma, promoted their “Asia Prime” party on campus complete with invitations that read “Herro Nice Duke Peopre” to sound like a bad Asian accent.

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life had already warned the fraternity about the party, but instead of canceling the event, they decided to repackage it as an “International Relations” party instead, complete with bros partying in Asian garb.

The frat stars apparently didn’t take into account, among other things, that 22 percent of Duke’s undergraduate students are Asian-Americans. The Asian Student Association at Duke University obtained photos of the party and deemed it the “#RacistRager.” (The girl sucking face with the half naked sumo wrestler surely regretted it the next morning.)

Kappa Sigma had just made a comeback on Duke’s campus after disbanding in 2002.

The Greeks at Duke have been chided for their racist parties in the past. Just last year Pi Kappa Phi thew a “Pilgrims & Indians” party.

But the Blue Devils aren’t the only college shaming the Greek community for their raucous behavior on university campuses.

The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at the University of Tennessee was suspended last fall after one of its members was hospitalized for “butt-chugging” everyone’s favorite boxed wine, Franzia.

The act of “butt-chugging” is fairly self-explanatory – if you want the dirty details please look elsewhere. (But if you still somehow missed the press conference where the fraternity president defends his sexual orientation and the frat’s lawyer says the phrase “butt-chugging” six times, that video is worth a watch.)

The Pi Kappa’s overall seem to have more problems with inappropriate behavior than other national fraternities. The Pi Kappa Alpha chapter at Tulane University was kicked off campus in 2009 for pouring crab boil and boiling water on pledges. Multiple pledges had to be hospitalized for second-and third-degree burns.

The worst part about stories like the “Asia Prime” and “Pilgrims & Indians” parties is that they are no longer surprising, nor are they the worst of the behaviors that fraternities actually participate in anymore, The aforementioned fraternities are just the ones who got caught. Fraternities across the country encourage members to take drugs, brutally haze pledges and drug girls at parties.

The president of Kappa Sigma at Duke, Luke Keohane, publicly apologized in an op-ed in the Duke’s newspaper The Chronicle for the “Asia Prime” party and said the fraternity was “deeply remorseful for the damage done to individuals.”

Keohane most likely is regretful because his fraternity got shut down. And because the whole idea probably started after one of his frat bros made an inappropriate joke about Asians after shot-gunning too many Fat Nattys at a chapter meeting one night. “Asia Prime” is a ‘prime’ example of the power of groupthink at work. There is no voice of reason. No one to say, ‘I think we’re taking it too far this time.’ Those that are willing to oppose everyone else in the group are usually ignored, or worse, bullied.

Fraternities aren’t inherently bad. They promote brotherhood and create a close-knit community for young men who may be feeling lost in the sea of faceless undergraduates on campus. And they can be fun. Who doesn’t want to live in the “Animal House?”

But while fraternities may create long-lasting friendships, young men shouldn’t want to be ‘friends’ with people who insult minorities or cause life-threatening injuries to others just for fun. It’s neither attractive nor ‘cool.’

 

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