Fiji

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In the span of 11 days in the middle of February, UT rose to the forefront of one of the country’s most divisive controversies surrounding university culture.

On Feb. 7, a now-infamous party took place at the Fiji house north of campus, instigating demonstrations, investigations and embarrassing headlines that spread across the world.

And on Feb. 18, Student Government President-elect Xavier Rotnofsky and Vice President-elect Rohit Mandalapu extended the criticism of UT’s social organizations a few blocks west of the Fiji house with a single sarcastic line in their first campaign video: “I want another Student Government president from Tejas.”

In the month that’s followed, discussions over the role that social organizations play in UT campus life have intensified. There are still protests against Fiji, SAE is under investigation for its own possible discriminatory customs and an SG election was framed almost exclusively around whether Greek and spirit organizations wield too much power.

There are obviously some very stark differences between the debate over fraternities, both at UT and nationally, and that over spirit groups at this University in particular. The former group carries connotations of misogyny and intolerance, justified or not; those same connotations are virtually nonexistent among the latter. And spirit groups at least ostensibly choose their members based on characteristics like service and leadership, while there’s a huge variation in selection criteria across different fraternities.

As a case in point, it’s ironic how the particular organization Rotnofsky and Mandalapu poked at is among UT’s best at not emulating Fiji’s example when it comes to race and elitism — the Tejas Club’s most recent New Man class, to use the group’s terminology, roughly mirrored the demographics of the University overall, and the Tejas Coffee distinguished speaker series provides the UT community with access to prominent leaders in a remarkable array of different fields.

Still, when every Executive Alliance this decade has featured at least one member of either Tejas or the female service group Orange Jackets (with the exception of 2012’s Thor Lund and Wills Brown, both of whom were in fraternities), it’s easy to see how this year’s Travesty duo were so successful in painting SG as a group that revolves around the interests of a select few organizations. In that regard, discussions over both Greek life and more explicitly merit-based social organizations revolve around the same central premises: exclusivity and the privileges encased therein.

Within Greek organizations, those privileges often manifest themselves as extensive alumni networks, which make any selection criteria based primarily on characteristics as innate as race, class or connections inherently problematic. But even spirit groups are capable of arbitrarily and sometimes wrongly leaving intelligent and capable voices out of their ranks. That exclusivity might be necessary to maintain a group’s legitimacy as a merit-based organization, but it’s worrisome how quickly it can become insular, which is why this year’s nontraditional Student Government campaign was so effective.

At the same time, outright antagonism toward exclusive groups of any affiliation strikes me as misguided. Elitism isn’t institutionalized in high school cafeterias or cubicle-adjacent water coolers, but it doesn’t take an avid fan of “Mean Girls” or “The Office” to notice that it still arises naturally. 

So just as UT’s musicians and top-tier athletes would find each other even without organized bands or sports teams, those attracted to Greek organizations would congregate into groups that look awfully similar to fraternities and sororities, while those attracted to service, school spirit or networking would wind up forming de facto spirit groups with their like-minded peers. Indeed, one reason Tejas and Orange Jackets have had such an influential history within Student Government is that all three institutions attract similar types of students by serving as training grounds for young leaders.

That’s not a problem. That’s freedom of association.

What is a problem is any organization viewing its selection process as the ultimate word on who does and does not deserve access to powerful positions or networking opportunities. In groups that select their members based on qualities other than merit, that type of exclusivity undermines the equality of opportunity for which universities are supposed to stand. And in groups that do select based on merit, it can stifle the exchange of ideas between qualified non-members and influential members.

To avoid those kinds of scenarios, organizations of all stripes should promote openness and inclusivity just as strongly as they do service, leadership, friendship or any other foundational principle. That’s the strongest path toward making UT welcoming and its institutions accountable to all of its 50,000-plus students.

Shenhar is a Plan II, government and economics sophomore from Westport, Connecticut. He writes about campus and education issues. Follow Shenhar on Twitter @jshenhar.

Mr. President,

 

Earlier this week, University of Oklahoma President David Boren made national and international headlines by denouncing a fraternity’s chant that singled out and discriminated against African-Americans.

The moment Boren found out about the chant, he was quick to call out the individuals involved and threatened disciplinary action. Not long after, he kicked the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter off campus and ordered the members living there to remove their belongings. A day later, he expelled two students charged with leadership roles in the racist chant. Boren acted quickly and boldly to draw a line in the sand against discrimination at his university.

On Feb. 7, the Phi Gamma Delta chapter at UT Austin held a party that mocked Mexican culture. While the Fiji house is not on campus, unlike the SAE house at OU, you could have set a precedent by condemning the “border patrol” party.

Instead, you sent other administration officials to address the issue and left it to the student leaders on campus to decry the event. A student-written letter of concern with over 1,000 signatures was not enough for your administration to take action. A rally with over 200 students was held and still, no action. Earlier this week, a forum regarding the party was hosted by the Center for Mexican American Studies and the overall consensus was clear: a lack of your administration’s support.

On Tuesday, you released a statement saying that you “deplore this behavior, which is contrary to the core values of The University of Texas at Austin.”

I completely agree with you, Mr. President. These types of events shouldn’t occur and like you, I deplore this behavior. The problem then comes with your statement: pure talk and no action.

The core values are unimportant if there is no one to defend them. As UT’s top administrative official, you should safeguard these core principles and take action to make sure that students employ them.

Today is March 13. It took you 33 days to even make a comment about a discriminatory event just off campus. Thirty-three days! It took Boren just hours to make a single comment about the events at his university.

The Latino community at UT did not ask for any of the Fiji students to be expelled, but we didn’t ask for silence, either. The fact that you are commenting 33 days after such an issue goes to show how much you care, understand the pain of those offended and how unimportant you think such discriminatory events are to your diversity agenda.

Yes, Mr. President, you are a lame duck president, but you could have left an even stronger legacy by taking action — and yet you didn’t. You could have held a town hall asking the UT community how they felt about this — and yet you didn’t. You could have made sure that your administration was the one reaching out to students and not the other way around. You could have done so many things — and yet you didn’t. I invite you to participate and communicate with us, to take action, to do something about the injustices we face on your campus — our campus!

Mr. President, on behalf of the underrepresented groups on campus, I must say that you have failed us. Your inability to act will only pave the way for further racially discriminatory events at UT, and as always, I am sure your response will be that your hands are tied. Shame on you, Mr. President. 

García is a government, history, international relations and Latin American studies senior from Brownsville.

The Actions of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma that came to light via a Youtube video first shared by OU Unheard were pretty despicable. I applaud President David Boren for severing “all ties and affiliations” with the fraternity and expelling two students associated with the event.

However, the inaction of UT’s Dean of Students in reprimanding our own Phi Gamma Delta fraternity for their border patrol party earlier this year perpetuates the good ol’ boy attitude of the South.

It is unfortunate that the term wetback and the offensive actions of dressing as construction workers (ironically, likely the same workers who just finished renovations on their own house) is not considered to hold the same level of vulgarity as those students over at OU’s SAE saying the “n-word” in a similar off-campus situation. 

The inaction of the UT administration and Dean of Students Sonica Reagins-Lilly in not punishing Fiji promotes the idea that you can get away from trouble if you are born into privilege and that Hispanics are still only second-class citizens.

At what point will UT instill some of the same accountability that Charlie Strong brought campus?

I thought UT stood for the core values of integrity, honesty, trust, fairness and respect toward peers in our community.

But apparently Dr. Boren is living up to those values more than the people who head the Dean of Students’ Office. Perhaps we need to change our campus before we change the world.

— Ruben Mendoza, chemical engineering and physics senior.

Maria Villalpando speaks at a panel held by the Department of Mexican American and Latino Studies on Monday. The panel focused on the party guest said was “Border Patrol” themed that Texas Fiji held Feb. 7.
Photo Credit: Carlo Nasisse | Daily Texan Staff

On Monday, a panel of UT faculty and students discussed the University’s decision not to take punitive action against Texas Fiji after its Feb. 7 party guests said was “border patrol” themed.

“I’m not satisfied,” Domino Perez, director of the Center for Mexican American Studies, said. “I want more to be done. I want more to be done so everyone on campus can feel safe, and students don’t have to be the subject of hurtful displays.”

The Department of Mexican American and Latino Studies held a forum to discuss the University’s decision to not punish the fraternity. 

The fraternity’s party was intended to have a “Western” theme, according to Fiji president Andrew Campbell. Many attendees wore sombreros, ponchos and construction hats with names such as “Jefe” and “Pablo Sanchez” written on them. 

Days after the party, the Office of the Dean of Students opened a formal investigation into the party but decided not to take action. Soncia Reagins-Lilly, senior associate vice president for the Dean of Students, said last week in an interview with the Texan that the fraternity did not violate any University rules.

“While we are limited to specific jurisdiction for off-campus private parties, we are not limited to growth and learning taking place,” Reagins-Lilly said. “We are proud of our students for holding each other accountable and continuing to conduct dialogue.”

Panelists at the forum were all members of the UT Latino community. Approximately 19 percent of students enrolled to the University in 2013 were Hispanic, according to the University’s Institutional Reporting, Research and Information Systems. 

“How could you behave this way with such a large Latino population?” Perez said. “Asking if the costume or the behavior is racist isn’t the question. … We need to be asking why that behavior is permissible.” 

The fraternity has reached out to members of Latino Community Affairs in order to understand what it can do to make the situation better, according to Maria Villalpando, a member of the organization. Campbell did not respond to multiple requests for a comment. 

The University’s response to Fiji’s party was inadequate compared to the recent action taken by the University of Oklahoma against its Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter, according to Yolanda Munoz, an applied learning and development junior. OU severed ties with SAE after a video surfaced Sunday showing members of the fraternity chanting anti-black racial slurs. 

“UT is being bashed all over because UT administration didn’t respond quickly enough and didn’t really do anything,” Munoz said. “But it’s a tricky question since [the fraternity] is off campus. … At what point does the administration draw the line?”

Educating fraternity members about the effect of mocking minority cultures is the most effective way to prevent offensive theme parties, according to Perez. 

“I don’t need you to be sensitive. I need you to not be racist,” Perez said. “The way to not be racist is to educate yourself and not be ignorant. This is a community where students should feel safe.”

Photo Credit: Lex Rojas | Daily Texan Staff


An issue that seems to have been “discussed” and “exhausted” in Austin news and in this very paper is the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) Border Patrol- (or Western-) themed party. Thoughts, opinions and hurt feelings have become the central focus of the discourse surrounding this offensive party and the negative University culture that fostered it (and several other incidents), but very little has been said by those who are actually educated on this subject about the real reason why it was wrong. 

 

The truth is that most people’s understanding of oppressive forces is extremely simplistic and limited. Racism is so entrenched in the very fabric of American society that it manifests itself at every level, whether intentionally or not. 

 

The organizers of this party singled out Mexican culture and decided to make a mockery of it. Incidents like this contribute to the constant marginalization of Latino/a people and all people of color. It is why I, a black woman, can sympathize with the students who were hurt the most by Fiji’s actions and decided to protest. The thing that unifies all people of color is a shared history of colonization and oppression brought on by capitalist, white supremacist forces. After spending centuries suffering through this, and having our very existence defined by it, we manage to form safe cultural spaces and build up a sense of pride, only to have aspects of our culture appropriated and denigrated. 
A Hispanic friend of mine pointed out to me the importance of highlighting that it’s not just that the partygoers wore outfits that were offensive, but that when they were done having their fun they were able to take the clothes off. They could put on their sombreros and ponchos and pretend to be Mexicans crossing the border, but when they stumbled home drunk that night and removed their party attire, they still have all of the rights and privileges that go along with being white in America. 

 

Guess what? People of color can’t remove their skin. We can’t step out of the physical features that align us with our socially constructed and assigned race. Mexican people are Mexican, all day every day. They deal with the all the structural racism that goes along with that. That’s why we are so upset when marginalized people’s culture gets appropriated — the appropriators never have to deal with the repercussions of actually belonging to that race. 

 

White people don’t deal with racism, point blank. They may face prejudice from other people based on being white, but they absolutely do not have a system of power that supports that prejudice, infringing on their every right, making it hard for them to move or even breathe. People of color have to walk around this campus every day dealing with the stares, knowing that many view us as undeserving, unintelligent outsiders. That thought process still exists, and situations like Fiji’s party, bleach bombings in West Campus, etc. are living proof of that.

 

We have honored this author’s request for anonymity given the sensitive nature of the subject 
matter.

 

 

According to the Dean of Students office, Texas Fiji’s “border patrol” theme party held on Feb. 7 did not violate any University rules. Fiji will not be penalized primarily because the party was held off campus, but the Dean of Students office will work with the fraternity to increase Fiji's cultural sensitivity.
Photo Credit: Carlo Nasisse | Daily Texan Staff

Texas Fiji’s “border patrol” theme party held on Feb. 7 did not violate any University rules and will not result in any penalty for the fraternity, according to Soncia Reagins-Lilly, senior associate vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.

Though the party was intended to have a “Western” theme, according to Fiji President Andrew Campbell, several party attendees said the party theme was communicated as “border patrol.” Many attendees wore sombreros, ponchos and construction hats with names such as “Jefe” and “Pablo Sanchez” written on them. 

Reagins-Lilly said the fraternity did not violate any rules, primarily because the party was held off campus, but she said the Dean of Students office is working with the fraternity to increase its cultural sensitivity. 

“Civility, diversity and citizenship are integrated into the fabric of the University of Texas at Austin,” Reagins-Lilly said. “‘There is ongoing work integrated in everything we do.”

Over 20 complaints were sent to the Campus Climate Response Team following the party, and a report released to the Associated Press found that the Team received one complaint about a similar party Fiji hosted in January 2014.

“While the behavior doesn’t mirror UT core values, it’s within students’ right to freedom of speech at private off campus event,” the University tweeted from the official UT-Austin Twitter account.

Reagins-Lilly said February’s party is just one example of cultural insensitivity on and around campus, and she said the Office of the Dean of Students is using the event to promote better cultural practices at UT. 

“It’s not limited to any particular community,” Reagins-Lilly said. “These are opportunities to talk about and learn from.”

Rocio Villalobos, a program director at the Multicultural Engagement Center on campus, said the events at Fiji are part of a larger problem of poor communication about issues of race.

“To the members of Phi Gamma Delta and their guests, having a ‘border patrol’ themed party and dressing up in construction gear was nothing to think twice about,” Villalobos said at a protest at Fiji’s fraternity house Feb. 12. “We are not a joke. Our lives are not a joke.”

Amber Magee, public health junior and director of Student Government’s Underrepresented Students Agency, said at the protest that action needed to be taken. 

“This is just one drop in a bucket that’s been going on way too long,” Magee said. “This has to stop now. We can’t just expect for investigations for things to go through the normal channels. We have to take action as a student body.”

From left to right: Chemistry senior Leland Breedlove, electrical engineering senior Nick Engmann and management information systems senior Joyce Wang.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

The University of Texas has had a rocky history on the subject of racism. From Stephanie Eisner’s 2012 Daily Texan cartoon describing Trayvon Martin as a “handsome, sweet, innocent colored boy” to the Young Conservatives of Texas’ affirmative action bake sale, or more recently, the Fiji fraternity border patrol-themed party, there is still a thread of bias here at UT.

Perhaps it is no wonder. Many of the school’s first benefactors and key people were intolerant of racial harmony. George W. Littlefield, a Confederate war veteran, funded many of the statues around campus like those dedicated to figures such as Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and other VIPs in the Confederate South.

As one walks through campus today, however, one is exposed to myriad races, colors and creeds, that co-exist within conflicting undercurrents; the region’s segregated and intolerant past and today’s trace of racial bias, however subtle that might be. The students on our present campus have the job of struggling to live within the University’s effort to create a melting pot of cultures from all over the world.

To fully comprehend the life-long implications linked to an individual’s race, it is important to understand how we define racism in society today.

For Nick Engmann, an African-American electrical engineering senior, racism is “any use of stereotypes or biases to harm another individual based on the color of their skin or how they identify themselves.”

Veiled racism has reached Engmann in his classes: “Some people don’t think that you are capable of things because you have a certain background or how they identify you. The way you speak, the nuances you drop here and there. They don’t think you’re competent.”

But sometimes, racism is more overt than subtle. The Campus Climate Response Team is responsible for receiving and tracking student complaints concerning, among other things, racial bias. As it reported Feb. 9, complaints have increased by over 700 percent since the 2012-13 academic year. The increase is due not only to high-profile incidents such as the bake sale but also to more personal attacks.

Just last semester, Engmann encountered one such incident firsthand. 

“One of my African-American friends and I were walking around West Campus with some other friends and a truck drove by and bleach-bombed us,” Engmann said. “They threw balloons filled with bleach water and hit my black friend’s pants and shirt. I had heard about this occurring around campus and thought that it had been blown out of proportion, but then it happened to us. It just baffled me that this could happen so close to home. That racism is still here.”

Rachel White, a black marine biology senior, hasn’t been directly targeted at UT. However, she says that she sometimes feels uncomfortable in certain situations, such as at parties or even in a class where she may be the only black student. 

“Although many people don’t have to think about their race or have to search for someone like them in their class with whom to study, as a black woman, I do,” White said.

Some students have a different perspective and have not encountered racial problems at all. International business junior Brianna Spiller is among them.

“I’ve always had a really positive experience here,” said Spiller, who states that she has never experienced any form of racism on campus directed at her.

Spiller has also been comfortable in social situations. As she explained, “All of the parties I’ve been to have been really good. No parties, no organizations, no one has looked at me funny. This school is very diverse and I think that the people are very open-minded.”

When asked how the University might improve, she pointed out that “for African-American students, there aren’t enough places for them to go. Either I join a sorority, or there is really nothing else. We also need to focus on getting more African-American men who want to come here to study and to learn.” The African-American student population of the University currently stands at 4 percent, down from 5 percent in 2013.

Why do students like Spiller not have any problems while others do? When a person is raised with bigotry as close as the next news story, sometimes it is hard not to expect it. 

White explains, “Racism still exists in schools, in the workplace and on the streets with law enforcement. It even exists in my mind because of the fact that I have to be self-conscious about what others think of me.”

But racial bias isn’t just about black and white. Hispanics make up close to a fourth of the student population at UT, but as the Fiji fraternity party illustrates, insensitivity still occurs, cloaked in a joke.

About the Fiji incident, Mathieu Saenz, a Hispanic math senior, said, “It’s pretty sad. I kinda feel sorry for them — the fact that they haven’t been exposed enough to other cultures to where they think it’s OK. If you grew up having a lot of Hispanic friends or friends of other races, and you’re close to those people, I don’t think you would treat somebody like that or go to a party like that.”

Joyce Wang, an Asian-American management information systems senior, has not felt such bias directly but says she has seen it within certain groups who don’t accept others into their circle because of race or language barriers. 

“How they act or don’t act towards strangers, whether they choose to socialize with them... They might think that others are not fit for their group because of things like ethnicity or they might speak a different language,” Wang said. She has also felt empathy for other students who have been the focus of random acts such as bleach balloon bombings.

For its part, the University has an active outreach program focused on improving race relations and opening a dialogue.

“We need to look at how much progress has been made at UT,” said Gregory Vincent, vice president of UT’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. “In terms of numbers, the campus is much more diverse than it has ever been, and there has been a shift in attitudes over time. If you recall last year, there were two events that were racially motivated planned by the Young Conservatives of Texas. The campus community saw those as extremely derogatory and the response was immediate, forcing the YCT to cancel the events. However, UT is a microcosm of what happens in the world. As a nation, there is still much to be done and UT reflects that.”

When asked if diversity can ever take on a negative form, Vincent responded, “On every level, diversity can be considered positive. Much research has confirmed that diversity in educational settings improves the experience for all. Studies of diverse scientific teams and workplace teams have shown that they produce stronger research and make better decisions. As a professor of higher education and law, I see this in the classroom over and over. The more opportunities we have to get know others of different races, the more stereotypes are broken down. In our increasingly global society, being able to work on teams of diverse people and possessing cultural competence are extremely positive.”

As race relations continue to improve here at UT as well as elsewhere across this country, understanding each other’s perspective can bridge many barriers. According to White, “Minorities have to tip-toe around the everyday issues that we experience in order to make our peers feel more comfortable, and a lot of people don’t realize this. We are afraid that we will be viewed as too sensitive or will be told that racism doesn’t exist and we are just too easily offended. It is something that is changing and there are efforts towards improvement, but awareness is so important.”

Ridout is a French senior from Garland.

During Texas Fiji’s “Marshalls” party Feb. 7, some attendees wore stereotypical Latino garb. As a result, the party has been the subject of much controversy this past week, including a protest on Friday. Many students on campus claimed that the costumes worn at the party, and certain aspects of the decoration at the event, were offensive to the Latino community. Some students demanded that parties with themes that potentially offend groups of people be barred permanently.  

I, as a member of Texas SigEp, have had a hard realization stemming from the reaction of those who were offended. I realize that there is a fundamental misunderstanding between the predominantly white Greek community and the minority groups on campus. Texas Fiji, and other fraternities that have similar themed parties, dress as they do for fun and with no intent of offending anyone. I know that because I have done so myself.

We don’t mean to offend anyone. But, as I have learned this week, the truth is, we do. Many people who defend Fiji make claims like one commenter’s in a previous Daily Texan article on this situation: “How in the world is a tequila bar offensive?” This type of argument misses an important issue though — what should or should not be offensive does not matter; what matters is what is offensive. The reality is that most members of the fraternities and sororities who throw these types of parties have never had to deal with the issues such parties lampoon. Thus, they have no right to say what should or should not be offensive to people who have.

The good news is this problem can be solved through open discussion. The conversation of what is and is not offensive needs to be had. The issue, as I see it, boils down to a misunderstanding — a misunderstanding that is widening the divide between the fraternities and sororities on campus and the rest of the campus community. That is why the Interfraternity Council leadership has reached out to the leadership team at the Multicultural Engagement Center in hopes that we can work together to make guidelines on party themes for our member fraternities. We, as the leadership team of the IFC, see this as the best way to initiate the dialogue, end this problem and ultimately lead to a more unified campus community.

Lueder is a Plan II, business honors, finance and philosophy junior from Dallas. He is the president of the Interfraternity Council.

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.”

Fiji party part of a larger problem

I know what you’re thinking: “Great, another piece about Fiji and their party.” And you’re right. But hear me out. 

I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not advocating indifference or apathy. I just recognize that Fiji’s party is part of a larger problem that exists within many social structures at tons of universities across the country. Fiji may have had suggestive decorations, but all the people who showed up in costumes went along with it. Fiji’s “western” theme — or “Border Patrol” (whichever you prefer) — is one of infinite questionable things that happen behind closed doors and off campus. The fact that students go along with things like this without the slightest apprehension is just as big an issue as Fiji’s decision to throw the party in the first place. Propagating an environment where parties like this are tolerated is a direct result of the student body at UT as a whole, not just Fiji. 

Fiji’s goal in throwing its “western” party wasn’t to offend people — at least, not from where I’m sitting. The fraternity's party was just another of the many theme parties that are a staple here at UT, complete with active and consenting participants (see: sombreros and moomoos). The concept of dressing up to get messed up is one I’ve become familiar with since coming to UT, and it’s one that I don’t believe will be going anywhere — people like costumes and decorations too much to wave goodbye to them just yet. If a line was crossed, it was because it has been a thousand times before, without the tiniest sense of remorse. So Fiji got caught. Let’s take a step back, think about the source of the issue and move on.  

Yes, Fiji’s lack of foresight is precisely what people are citing as the basis for their anger, and understandably so. But if we intend to call Fiji out for their carelessness, which, for the record, is not much of a surprise considering the culture of partying at UT, we might as well call the rest of the University out while we’re at it.  

This past week’s drama is less a reflection of Fiji’s values than a painful reminder of the priorities of this University’s partygoers. If the news of this past week upset you, that’s fine. If you’re questioning why the choices of a few students are still newsworthy, that’s fine too. Either way, let's make a pact to move forward with progressive and purposeful decisions instead of pigeonholing certain institutions. 

Berkeley is an associate editor.