Case Western Reserve University is investigating allegations that Phi Delta Theta fraternity misrepresented the Mexican culture in a variety show performance Friday, sparking a massive debate over social media.
Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity stated it is also investigating its Case Western Reserve chapter and referenced "racially insensitive costumes" worn during the Greek Week show.
Photos show fraternity members wearing ponchos and sombreros.
"We have to be more respectful on the campus and understand these are people's cultures, not costumes," said senior Andrew Torres. "I was bothered and offended by it and it was disrespectful."
Also disrespectful, Torres said, is some of the other commentary sparked by the controversy. In an online petition asking students for signatures in support of the Latino student community, one comment reads, "Deport all Mexicans."
"I think when you see incidents like this, it's just a reminder that there's more work to do," Torres said.
Phi Delta's international office said they are working with CWRU to investigate what went wrong.
“We are concerned by the actions of the chapter. 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.
After learning of the complaint Monday, University president Barbara Snyder spoke with students who were offended by the fraternities skit, she said in a statement. All aspects of the issue are under review, including the processes that surround the show's inclusion of performances, according to Snyder.
Diversity is a core value of the university, Snyder said, adding, "Unfortunately, this issue underscores how much more work we all have to do--in teaching, learning and listening."