Olivia Berkeley is right to point out that the poor decision on the part of hundreds of students to attend Fiji’s racially offensive party last weekend was just as worrisome as the decision by the fraternity to throw it. However, she is woefully misguided about the reason as to why these events persist. In her effort to situate the event in the larger context of the University setting, she states that this party was the “direct result of the student body at UT as a whole.” This is a gross overstatement that undercuts the hard work of multiple organizations that consistently voice their opposition to the racially charged episodes that occur all too frequently on or near campus (“catch an illegal immigrant” games, bleach-bombing of students of color in West Campus, just to name two recent examples). Indeed, many students show much more than just “the slightest apprehension” about going along with these events, instead calling them out for what they are: racially themed parties whose central purpose is to degrade and diminish other cultures. When minority student organizations seek out justice they are met with accusations, in this case by Berkeley, of “pigeonholing” Greek culture.
As associate editor, Berkeley rightfully asks us to “think about the source” of this party and others like it. The source she identifies, however, is UT’s insatiable desire for themed parties. Setting aside the fact that other people’s cultures should not be equated with “costumes and decorations” that characterize other themed parties, I know many UT students who would not consider compromising their basic values of respect for the cultures of fellow Longhorns for the sake of having a good time. By suggesting that those who seek out justice are somehow “pigeonholing” Greek culture, Berkeley precludes the very “progressive and purposeful decisions” that she states will move us forward.
— Alvaro Jose Corral, government graduate student, in response to Olivia Berkeley’s Thursday piece titled “Fiji isn’t the only one to blame.”