The party was held Monday — “in hopes of showing respect” to Black History Month — by a group of individuals affiliated with a number of fraternities; particularly, Pi Kappa Alpha. The event received notoriety when the Facebook event description was published in a note by Revelle College sophomore Elize Diop. The party called for males to wear “XXXL” T-shirts and “stunner shades,” and for females to dress like “ghetto chicks” in cheap clothing. Approximately 275 students RSVPed as “attending.”
The matter was brought to the attention of Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue Monday night by e-mails from concerned students. Fox and Rue sent out a mass e-mail early Tuesday morning condemning the party as “a blatant disregard of our campus values.”
“As soon as we realized it was not a hoax, we worked to respond as quickly as possible,” Rue said.
Students attending Tuesday’s forum said they were not directly targeting the fraternity, but were more concerned about the lack of awareness about diversity on campus. Currently, less than 2 percent — or 200 of the campus’ 22,000 undergraduate students — is registered as black.
According to Warren College junior Cierra McCoy, the party is only a symptom of the lack of campus diversity. She said that black students not only have low acceptance and yield rates, but also low retention rates, as many of them eventually want to transfer due to racism at the university.
“There’s all this talk about improving student life,” McCoy said at the forum. “Well, this is my student life. I don’t give a damn if the National Guard has to walk me to my bio class, I will make them do it, and I will not transfer, and I will graduate.”
Other forum attendees, such as A.S. Campuswide Senator Bryant Pena, called for the expulsion of the individuals involved in planning the party.
However, Rue said that it is unlikely that the university will take direct action against these students.
“I do not believe there will be punishment as this still falls under the protection of free speech,” she said.
She said the university would focus on diversity campaigns instead.
“I believe the best way to respond to this type of speech is more speech, since it’s our collective voices that show the resilience of the San Diego community,” she said.
Both Director of Student Life Emily Feinstein — who is also the Inter-Fraternity Council adviser — and Director of Student Involvement Emily Marx said the event was neither funded nor sponsored by a fraternity.
“The only fraternity link this has is that some of the organizers were Greek-affiliated,” IFC president Robby Naoufal said. “We can’t control the conduct of our members every moment of the day. They do act on their own.”
“We found out that it is individuals who did this — that it was multiple members of the same [apartment complex], and not fraternity-sponsored,” she said.
However, Feinstein said the university is meeting with the individuals involved — whose named have not been released — and that various Greek organizations will work with local and national chapters to educate them about the incident.
“I will do everything in my power to rehabilitate not just the Greeks, but [to] try to empower the entire community,” she said.
Campuswide Senator Tobias Haglund, who is also a member of the IFC, denied allegations, — including Diop’s — accusing PIKE of being a “white frat”.
“That is absolutely false,” he said. “We pride ourselves on our diversity. Whoever made the comment was rightly upset and emotional, but PIKE is not a white frat.”
PIKE issued an official statement today denying association with the Compton Cookout and condemning the party.
Students also used Tuesday’s forum as an opportunity to speak out against controversial humor newspaper the Koala. They cited the most recent issue — which ridiculed the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated Haiti — as well as past issues that have repeatedly used the word “nigger.”
According to Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary Ratcliff, the cookout and Koala content are both representative of prejudice on campus.
“The Koala is the journalistic equivalent to an arsonist,” he said. ““It gets pleasure from the terror of others.”
Ratcliff added that he would support withdrawing funding from the publication, though a recent A.S. proposal to alter media guidelines was unsuccessful.
“For 10 years I’ve seen cycles of Koalas injure students,” he said. “I’ve worked with leaders to set up meetings about this issue. A courageous group went to the A.S. [Council] to talk about it, but [the council] got cold feet.”
A.S. Associate Vice President of Diversity Affairs Jasmine Phillips said the university constantly marginalizes minorities; for instance, by asking the BSU to pay for its own yield program, which is designed to encourage minority students to graduate.
“The administration expects our organization to [shell out] for the yield [program] when it’s their problem that they should be working on it themselves,” she said. “We can’t just keep planning — something needs to happen.”
In response to the recent upset, administrators are launching a diversity campaign called “Not in Our Community,” and will be holding a teach-in on Feb. 24 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Price Center East Ballroom.
Readers can contact Angela Chen at firstname.lastname@example.org.