Duke Fraternity’s Asian ‘Racist Rager’ Slammed by Students

Wednesday, 06 Feb 2013 01:36 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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A Duke University fraternity's Asian-themed party last week has sparked a backlash from seething students who said they planned to protest the "racist rager" on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Duke students of all races papered the campus with fliers which featured the "racist" email invitation and photos from the Feb. 1 Kappa Sigma fraternity party. The invite included stereotypical misspellings like "Herro Nice Duke Peopre," "Chank You," and a photo of the Kim Jong Il puppet from the parody film "Team America," as well as Facebook photos from the party showing students in traditional Asian attire.

"This is not just about Asians, one party or one frat," Ashley Tsai, a member of the university's Asian American Alliance, told Duke's Chronicle student newspaper. "This is a consistent thing happening. We want serious things to be done by the student body and the University so that this never happens again."

More than 560 students RSVP'd "yes" to a Facebook invite for the planned protest on Wednesday, organized by the alliance.

"We are protesting the culture of acceptance at these kinds of things," Ting-Ting Zhou, sitting Asian Students Association president, told the Chronicle. "The administration does nothing."

Someone reportedly approached administration complaining about the email invitation for the party, and Duke Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta told the Chronicle he met with Kappa Sigma leadership on Tuesday morning to express his disappointment that the party occurred despite encouragement from the university to cancel it.

Kappa Sigma president Luke Keohane, a senior, apologized on behalf of the fraternity for its actions.

"Upon learning of the deeply damaging effects of our email to our fellow students, we should have completely canceled the aforementioned party," read the email sent to the Chronicle. "The Duke Community in which we exist is one that we see too often as divided, and while our actions have brought attention to and widened that divide, it is our sincere intention to work to contribute to a United Duke."

No disciplinary action was planned for the fraternity, Moneta told the Chronicle, because he does not believe a single punishment will resolve the persistent racial stereotyping that has occurred at Duke social gatherings. He said he will continue to work with student leaders to help them understand that.

A similar incident occurred at Penn State last year when a sorority hosted a Mexican-themed party where everyone was encouraged to wear ponchos, sombreros, and fake mustaches.

Photos from the party showed sorority members with signs that read, "Will Mow Lawn for Weed + Beer" and "I Don't Cut Grass, I Smoke It." The sorority, Chi Omega, later apologized "for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes," according to Gawker.

Twitter users appear to have mixed feelings on whether the fraternity party was racist.

Related stories:

Michigan Congressman Slams McCain, Says Iran Remark is 'Racist'

Racist Graffiti in Freedom Tower's Restrooms Makes It 'Tower of Hate'

Civil Rights Act Part of Racism Progress

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