Three UT Greek organizations have issued apologies after controversy over their ethnic-themed parties spread during the last few days.
UT’s Zeta Tau Alpha and Delta Delta Delta sororities and Alpha Tau Omega fraternity apologized for any offense they may have caused the UT community in three separate statements. All three organizations say they had no negative intentions with their theme parties.
Although ethnic-themed parties are nothing new in the UT community, tensions were heightened after a “fiesta-themed” party, hosted by the UT chapters of Zeta Tau Alpha and Delta Delta Delta, made headlines Friday in Burnt Orange Report and Monday in The Daily Texan.
The party was filled with guests wearing attire associated with Hispanic stereotypes, including ponchos, sombreros and fake mustaches. Two guests wore shirts that read “illegal” and “border patrol.”
Word then began to spread via Facebook that the UT chapter of Alpha Tau Omega was planning an “Alpha Tau Omega Present Fiestau” party for Saturday. According to the original Facebook event for the party, “Fiestau” was going to feature ”a border to cross” event, a major concern for the party’s critics.
In a Tuesday phone interview with The Daily Texan, Nick Davis, petroleum engineering sophomore and co-organizer of the event’s Facebook page, said the event was still in the planning stages, but the fraternity had a good idea of how it was going to look.
Davis said the party would have a “Mexican side” and a “Texas side” and guests would have to cross a man-made river to get from one side to the other. This plan further fueled existing concerns of bias.
Veronica Rivera, political communication studies sophomore, said after hearing about planned “Fiestau” event, she had seen enough.
Rivera started a petition Tuesday urging members of the UT community to “encourage the organizations to end the negative and hurtful portrayal of communities of color on campus.” The petition received 521 signatures by Wednesday evening, she said.
Rivera said she sees the apologies as a small step in a much larger battle against bias at the University, and she will be delivering the petition to campus administrators along with a plan for increased cultural sensitivity training for all campus organizations.
In a Tuesday phone interview with The Daily Texan, Ryan Miller, lead team member for the Campus Climate Response Team, an organization that investigates incidents of bias at UT, said his office has received 15 reports of racially biased theme parties at UT so far this semester.