Protests erupt over "border patrol" themed fraternity party

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Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Over a hundred students, faculty and staff stood outside of the Texas Fiji house Thursday, chanting, “Hey, ho, these racist frats have got to go,” to protest a party the fraternity held last weekend that attendees said was themed “border patrol.”

Latino Community Affairs, an agency that works to advocate for Latino students on campus, organized the protest and march. Representatives from different cultural organizations spoke in front of the Cesar Chavez statue in the West Mall before the crowd marched to the fraternity house.

Watch footage from the march here:

Several guests at the Fiji party confirmed they were told the theme was “border patrol” and attendees wore ponchos, sombreros and construction gear with names such as “Jefe” and “Pablo Sanchez” on them. 

Fiji president Andrew Campbell said the party theme was not intended to be offensive.   

“While the party was intended to have a western or old west theme, there were elements and dress that were insensitive and inappropriate,” Campbell said in a statement Tuesday. “We understand why people were and are offended.”

In the fraternity’s statement, members agreed to work with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to educate members on cultural sensitivity.

“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,” fraternity members said in the statement.

Rocío Villalobos, a program director at the Multicultural Engagement Center on campus, said Fiji members should have given the party’s theme more careful consideration.

“They don’t care that people risked their lives when they crossed the border,” Rivera said. “They don’t care that some people in our families proudly put on construction hats, gloves and reflective vests because that job allows them to provide for themselves and for their families. There is no shame in being a migrant; there is no shame in being a construction worker; and there is no shame in having brown skin.”

Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

Officials from the Office of the Dean of Students met with the fraternity this week and said they are assessing the situation, according to a University statement released Monday.

“The University of Texas at Austin holds diversity and tolerance among our highest values,” the statement said. “We strive to promote a campus culture in which all students feel welcome and safe.”

According to Amber Magee, public health junior and director of Student Government’s Diversity and Inclusion agency. The Fiji party theme cannot be brushed off as “just a joke.”

“On a daily basis, people of color still have to deal with these issues,” Magee said. “So if you tell me it’s just a joke, [or] it’s just a party, I’m going to tell you that the fact that you’re so privileged that you don’t recognize a problem with that — that’s your issue, not mine.”

Carlo Nasisse | Daily Texan Staff

To see more of Thursday's protest, check out our slideshow here.