Delta Chi has faced harsh backlash since the Sept. 21 party, with members of the school’s Hispanic community speaking out against it and the Associated Students of the University of California Senate condemning it in new legislation, according to The Daily Californian.
“For people in the Mexican community, quinceañeras are usually for young women who transition from being a girl into a woman,” said ASUC Senator Wendy Pacheco, author of the bill. “That’s very important in our community, and for someone to take that and turn it into a party scene and dress up with sombreros and mustaches and reflect those stereotypes of what Mexican culture is is not OK.”
Pacheco, an Ethnic Studies and Legal Studies double major, also wrote that “[frat] members came dressed up with sombreros, fake mustaches, blown up cacti, and dress that was reflective of ‘cholos,'” according to a copy of the bill obtained by Red Alert Politics.
The bill calls for the fraternity to write an apology letter to members of the Hispanic community, as well as racial sensitivity training for the entire Greek system.
Delta Chi President Cody Kermanian told The Daily Cal that the event was suggested by Mexican members of the frat and that no harm was meant by it.
“A lot of the rhetoric in the bill assumes what our thoughts were without even talking to us about it,” he told the paper. “The intention was never to marginalize, and it never has been nor will be.”
David Jaramillo, a member of a campus Latino fraternity, Lambda Upsilon Lambda, told the paper it was ‘racist.’
“We are a part of CalGreeks, and we feel very disappointed in the fact that the Greek community is continuously perpetrating acts of cultural insensitivity and racism,” Jaramillo said.
ASUC External Affairs Vice President Safeena Mecklai, also a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, told Red Alert Politics that Hispanic students and organizations at UC Berkeley have a right to call out Delta Chi for the event if they felt marginalized. She added that while the fraternity didn’t intend to offend anyone, it’s the resulting impact on the campus that really matters.
“I think with events like this, it’s a big question of intent versus impact,” she said. “Even if you didn’t intend to appropriate culture or impact negatively students’ experiences at Cal, if it did have that impact, then you need to recognize and own up that you made students feel uncomfortable.”
Nonetheless, Mecklai stressed that ethnic and cultural insensitivity is not limited to just Greek organizations, and that the ASUC Senate bill unfairly targets and “villainizes” the sororities and fraternities. Instead, she recommended that there be a student-led push for more diversity and sensitivity on the campus as a whole.
But in recent years, instances of racial and cultural insensitivity have plagued Greek organizations at different schools nationwide, including UC Berkeley. Another UC Berkeley frat, Theta Delta Chi, was criticized for hanging a Halloween decoration that looked like a lynching last year. And the Kappa Sigma fraternity at Duke was suspended earlier this year for hosting an Asian-themed party.