CLEVELAND – Some call it offensive, and it has caused quite a social media debate on a Cleveland college campus.
A local fraternity is under investigation after performing a variety show skit that offended some students. The skit was performed by members of Phi Delta Theta during “Greek Week” at Case Western Reserve University. Some students say the issue is overblown and believe the fraternity meant no harm. But others say the skit was hurtful and insensitive to Latinos.
CWRU officials say Monday, they received a letter from “concerned Latinx students” complaining about the skit performed last Friday.
They complained about “fraternity members dressing in Mexican sarapes and sombreros, played carelessly with stereotypes”…that it had “no legitimate historical context” and referenced “presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposed policy to create a border wall.”
Some students told Fox 8 they have heard about the controversy, but had not seen the skit…they had varying opinions about race relations on campus.
“Sometimes people don’t understand how other people feel about race or how people should come at them about their race, so we’re just like being respectful in all contexts,” said CWRU student Olu Laniyonu.
“I don’t feel uncomfortable around anyone and I hope nobody feels uncomfortable around me,” said student Jonathan Jordan.
Case Western president Barbara Snyder released a statement which reads, in part…”Diversity is a core value of the university, and we have made significant progress in engaging the community in thoughtful discussion, including through campus-wide diversity education and training programs. Unfortunately, this issue underscores how much more work we all have to do–in teaching, learning and listening.”
The fraternity’s leadership also released a statement.
“Phi Delta Theta is a values-based organization and the lack of judgment associated with this poor decision indicates a disconnect from those same values. Our goal is to determine the organizational issues associated with this misguided decision and to provide both punitive and educational action that will promote reform,” said Mike Wahba, Director of Chapter Services.
“We talk a lot in our classes about discrimination and micro aggressions and all that sort of stuff, so within our school, I think that we’re very open-minded,” said CWRU graduate student Maureen Giardina.
Among other things, the concerned students are asking for a public apology from the fraternity, that all its members participate in diversity education and training, and that they accept any sanctions imposed by the university’s Greek Life office.
Case Western officials say the Office of Student Affairs is already speaking with students on both sides, and reviewing the process of how performances are approved.