Feb

24

Dean Martinez Responds to Theta

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In response to the culturally insensitive Theta mixer, Interim Dean of Students Terry Martinez has released the following statement.

Update (12:42 am): Columbia’s Inter-Greek Council has promised to work on “initiatives” that will enhance “social awareness.” See their statement below the jump.

Update (3:15 am): The Chicano Caucus has responded to pictures of its activities at Glass House Rocks.

Update (8:20 pm): Kappa Alpha Theta has released a statement.

From Dean Martinez:

February 24, 2014

Dear Students,

I am incredibly saddened and disappointed to learn of students in our community participating in costume caricatures of several different nationalities. It is our utmost responsibility to ensure that your living and learning environment is free from any act or behavior that degrades individuals or groups, including racially or culturally- based insensitivity. I want to reaffirm our collective commitment to maintaining a supportive environment and call for us to be civil to and responsible for one another. While the intention may have been harmless, the actions taken have had an impact that may have not been intended.

As such, the bias-related response team, which is comprised of members across Student Affairs including the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Fraternity and Sorority Life, are currently reaching out to potentially impacted communities to offer support and follow-up.

Furthermore, the “We’re a culture, not a costume” awareness campaign, which originated at Ohio University’s Students Teaching About Racism in Society and which the OMA has brought to Columbia annually since 2011, reminds us that while the intent of individuals may be benign or even in jest, the impact on a campus community can be harmful and hurtful by perpetuating reductive stereotypes. The national and widespread reach of this campaign also conveys that these microaggressions unfortunately are pervasive, and that we need to continue our collective efforts to substantively address systemic issues that perpetuate such incidents. Accordingly, I hope this is a learning moment for our community.

I would also like to remind our entire community of the Community Principles, which were developed together by students and key administrative offices across all four undergraduate schools.

Several key points include:

  • We are all responsible to this community and affirm that we treat each other with respect and dignity.
  • Members of our community act with honesty by accepting accountability for their words and actions, and maintaining the integrity of the community as a whole.
  • As members of the University with different experiences and ideas, we actively engage each other to understand, appreciate and accept our various identities.

No campus community is removed from larger systemic issues, but Columbia University is committed to fostering a learning environment that free from discrimination and bias. As members of this community, I thank you for your efforts in making our campus a safe, friendly, and welcoming place.

Sincerely,

Terry Martinez
Interim Dean of Student Affairs

Update (12:42 am): Here’s the statement from IGC:

February 25, 2014

To the Columbia and broader community:

In light of recent events involving organizations within Columbia’s Greek community, the Columbia University Inter-Greek Council, consisting of the Inter-Fraternity Council, the Multicultural Greek Council, and the Columbia University Panhellenic Association, is currently working to develop campus-wide initiatives that will improve upon the current dialogue surrounding social awareness issues at our University. We look forward to using this opportunity to find new ways to promote social consciousness in a manner that contributes to a vibrant multicultural community emphasizing diversity, inclusiveness, and mutual respect.

We are committed to addressing the issues at hand and will be sure to further communicate with the greater community regarding our efforts.

Sincerely,

Bishoy Ameen, Inter-Fraternity Council President
Jennifer Ngo, Multicultural Greek Council President
Jessica Chi, Columbia University Panhellenic Association President

Update (8:21 pm): Here is Theta’s statement:

To whom it may concern,

We – wrongfully and regretfully – used stereotypes a few days ago in a manner that we now recognize was insensitive and unacceptable. We were wrong, and we are truly sorry for our actions surrounding the weekend’s events.

Our organization prides itself on being a group of “leading women.”  Our actions were not the actions of leaders.  We embarrassed ourselves, our families and our university.

We will do many things as a result of our mistakes.  First and foremost, we’ll learn from them.  We are committed – as an organization and as individuals – to educating ourselves about cultural differences and the harmful effects of furthering stereotypes.  We’ll start by reaching out to the leaders of several campus organizations in hopes of partnering together to advance multicultural awareness within our community.

Secondly, we will not attempt to make justifications or excuses for what we’ve done.  We’ve made these mistakes, and we will not make a subsequent one by failing to own up to our wrongdoings.

Finally, we will take as many steps possible to make amends with the populations we have hurt most. That starts with this apology.  However, we know actions speak louder than a written apology.  And we can only hope that our commitment to advancing multicultural awareness and owning up to what we’ve done can – over time – prove our sincerity.  Only then, could we ask for forgiveness.

Sincerely,

The Epsilon Upsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta

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80 Comments

  1. anddddd  

    THE PLOT THICKENS

  2. anonymous  

    fucking liberals

  3. Anonymous  

    Dean Martinez, what about the Chicano Caucus? I am Mexican and I resent their actions as much as I resent Theta's. I do not feel represented by either group's portrayal of Mexican culture. Just because they're a self-entitled cultural group they've earned the right not to be criticized? Back home we call that hipocresía.

  4. CC'16  

    The formatting on this letter is weird, so I read the line fourth from the bottom as "No campus community is removed from larger systemic issues, but Columbia"

  5. Anonymous  

    how many extra articles do you have to write, these girls need a break. you guys look like huge bullies. Sorry, Dean, you need to stop laying it into these girls.

  6. Splooge Drenched Blowjob Queen  

    I found this especially hard to masturbate to.

  7. Anonymous

    This Internet trial by hellfire is not commensurate with Theta's transgressions. They're being punished much more than their crimes of "cultural appropriation" deserve.

  8. This school needs to

    chill the fuck out

  9. Anonymous  

    Thank god there's a support group set up for the injured parties. I have stayed away from TV and social interaction in general for the last few years to avoid being offended, but I just decided to give it another chance... I shouldn't have done that! When I saw what Chicano Caucus did, I suffered an emotional breakdown that will take some time to recover from.

    Back to being alone and not offended.

    • Anonymous  

      But it was from within our own community! Right here at Columbia! I've likewise tried to avoid the outside world's twisted views of my own unique culture by abstaining from the internet and any and all forms of written and spoken communication, but I figured at a place like Columbia I would be safe from anyone making fun of me or my background. I expect so much more from this university. They need to push more awareness on these issues so I never feel hurt again.

      Likewise, until then, it's back to being sad and alone.

  10. If  

    you didn't want to be called out on your shit, then don't do it. Seems simple enough.

  11. Seriously

    I can't believe it's gone this far. WTF is this school. The administration ignores rape and sexual assaults but takes the time out to draft a letter apologizing for the costumes a few sorority girls wore one random night.

    • Wait...  

      Doesn't that sound like what people say about the discourse surrounding sexual assault? Why compare two problems that need rectifying if you are only going to pit them against each other?

  12. BC'18

    This mudslinging is definitely not why I chose Barnard. (this being bwog, I would like to point out I know "Barnard isn't Columbia, but this affects the entire community.) There are much worse things going on in the world, and I thought the school i chose would care more about those than some girls who dressed up for a fucking party. You people need to get over yourselves, life sucks, but you cant cry every time something you do not like happens. Hopefully this is not the atmosphere at CU and if it is...then I hope you guys get your shit together in the next 6 months. Two cents from a future classmate.

  13. Annoyed  

    cry me a river.

    I am somewhat getting tired of this cultural appropriation junk. Some people may be offended by this and apologies go to them, but fun is fun and jest is jest. One shouldn't ruin other people's fun over actions whose intentions are not meant to harm, but to have fun and show aspects of cultures that is known by the U.S. Is that so wrong?

    By enforcing and continually hammering the idea of that cultural appropriation is insensitive and wrong, we are just furthering distinguishing minorities and cultures and creating this awkward tension and inequality. Can't we all just be equal and looked at for who we are, not just our culture?

    I feel that the reaction to this event is to be expected of Columbia, but I wished it didn't have to be so. How about we focus on equality, respect, and comfort amongst all people instead of this marginalization of cultures and emphasizing culture as 95% of who a person is. Not to say you can't celebrate and embrace your culture and be proud, but everything is in moderation.

    thoughts of a female latino Columbia student

  14. theta  

    i'd do it again

  15. I'm Bullish on Popcorn  

    Buy, Buy, Buy. POP is up 483%. The amount of popcorn needed for this is truckloads.

  16. Anonymous

    I have been so hurt by the sorority girls. I am impacted.
    I want to thank you Dean R. for helping me. I need a support group.

  17. Anonymous  

    "In 2012, students in Penn State’s Chi Omega sorority came under investigation after hosting a “Mexican-themed party,” where students wore sombreros, ponchos, and mustaches and held signs reading “will mow lawn for weed + beer” and “I don’t cut grass, I smoke it.”'

    Am I the only person disgusted by Christian Zhang's decision to lump this incident with the one at Penn State two years ago? To imply that these two events are even remotely similar in their level of offensiveness is ridiculous and inflammatory.

    One group wore sombreros and mustaches, making no indication that they thought negatively of either their attire or the cultural group it was meant to represent.

    The other wore sombreros and mustaches, and attached negative stereotypes and a degree of racism and delusions of cultural superiority that is unseen in the costumes and actions of the Theta girls.

    Chi Omega's actions were racist and offensive, and perpetuated negative stereotypes of Mexicans. Theta's did not. Chi Omega deserves the condemnation it received. Theta is the undeserving target of a witchhunt.

  18. Anonymous  

    Everyone who has been emphasizing the whiteness of the girls if racist. If you're going to condemn such actions, your condemnation shouldn't be a conditional one based on race. If you think such actions are unacceptable, then they are unacceptable, period. If something isn't ok for a white girl to do, it shouldn't be ok for a black girl or a Latina girl or a girl (or guy) of any other race, ethnicity, religious background, sexuality, etc. to do.

  19. Tacos  

    It's because Terry is Hispanic isn't it?

  20. Sticks and Stones  

    May break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

    Though costumes might.

  21. separated balls from leg  

    that's better

  22. Anonymous  

    God damn. You know the reason these girls are getting crucified is cause they are a bunch of pretty white(mostly) girls.

  23. wait  

    I'm offended that sorority girls don't sleep with me, but you dont see me drafting up a letter to the entire student body every time one rejects me. #FirstAmendmentIsHard

  24. Hey Dean Martinez

    Does this mean you'll address the countless Columbians who, in 3 weeks, will disparage a rich, open, and proud culture when they drink green beer in an effort to perpetuate the drunken Irish stereotype?

    No people in history has been marginalized more than the Irish. 800 years of servitude to one of the most brutal and oppressive institutions in the history of the world. In spite of that, we've produced seminal poets, writers, and mathematicians. We are a proud people.

    Unfortunately, Students who are far from Irish put on green hats, wear green clothing, and reduce us to a band of green, degenerate inebriates ready for fisticuffs at a moment's notice.

    This saddens me. This saddens me very much. We Irish are a culture, not a costume. We are not all firemen, policemen, and leprechauns. However, we can root for Notre Dame and cheer on the Fighting Irish, but you better not. That fighting leprechaun is not an accurate representation of our deep cultural history : it is reductive.

    On March 17, be more sensitive toward out feelings.

    • Anon  

      "No people in history has been marginalized more than the Irish"

      I'm sure all the Jews, Blacks, gypsies and Palestinians couldn't agree more.

    • Irish-American  

      I honestly can't tell if you're serious.

    • Irish-American  

      As a fellow Irish-American, I kindly ask that you remove the large metal rod that seems to be firmly planted up your ass. On St. Patty's day, I will gladly partake in drunken debauchery and will encourage all my non-Irish friends to don green and get shitfaced with me while we sing some Irish folk songs and drink an ungodly amount of Guinness. If you wish to argue this point further, I say we settle this dispute with some friendly "fisticuffs." Some of us take pride in our ability to outdrink the rest of the world and never back down from a fight. May the road rise to meet you, and may the wind be always at your back.

  25. Also

    I will donate absolutely no money to Columbia for any reason until Dean Fartinez is gone.

  26. Anonymous

    For those who are seriously bothered by young women dressing up in distasteful costumes, I must break it to you: the world's going to give you a really tough time.

    Spend the 10 minutes/hours/days you would have spent outraged and tackle some real problems. For whatever reason, each of us has been blessed with a fucking high level of privilege relative to 99.9% of the world's population, and some of us have chosen to waste brain cells on what amounts to a drop in the bucket of human suffering.

    Get to work.

  27. Anonymous  

    Hey, I'm offended by the fact that Barack Obama's drone program has a kill count of over 300 babies. Maybe you should write me a letter of apology for inviting him to speak at graduation a couple years back. Oh wait, liberals don't care about dead babies - they care about "feelings".

  28. At some point  

    you would think at least one of the 20 white girls putting on a sombrero and a big moustache would be like "you know, this could be construed as being sort of offensive." like did they buy these moustaches in bulk? the girl who handed them out, was she just like "yeah this seems like a good idea. take a moustache and a mariachi coustume, a cha cha cha cha"?

  29. ummmm  

    But SigEp threw the party ! NO ?!?, NO ONE CARE. OO OKAY

  30. but SigEp  

    represented the USA... they were too smart. They didn't even make it an option for their members to dress up as other countries.

  31. MGTOW

    SigEp hosted the party, but they only dressed as Team USA, so they have none of the blame. As usual, the "chivalric" white knights are defending women in the wrong by blaming men. No, sorry, we will not let this incident go just because they were "girls just having some fun" or because "it's those nasty SigEp frat boy's fault-if they hadn't hosted the party, we wouldn't have been racist". Take responsibility for your own actions instead of blaming someone else.

  32. come on...  

    come on, please, why don't the admin tries to fix the problems that cause real distress to students instead of this? Like disorganization and inept/crazy professors? Let's throw another party, I will be the first one to dress as my own country.

  33. Anonymous  

    i'm so sick of this school get me the fuck out.

  34. are you serious  

    *****"are currently reaching out to potentially impacted communities to offer support and follow-up"****** ..... are you joking? if someone is so offended by this that they need "support" then they need "support" for a whole other slew of reasons

  35. Anonymous

    I am from a third world country I definitely understand what it is like to have the world around you distort and oppress your country and culture through misleading images. However, the solution here is not to campaign against them, but rather reach out to them and ask them to join one of your meetings. That way, they will become more educated and you will have achieved your goal of raising awareness. Chicano Causes' response is counter productive because right now, all Chicanco Caucus has successfully accomplished is making sure members of Theta forever associate Mexicans and their culture with all this undeserved drama and harassment.

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