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
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.
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.
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.
The Epsilon Upsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta