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Fraternity reported for ‘bias incident’ of wearing construction outfits on May 5

Um, our house has been under renovation for two years

It wasn’t a Cinco de Mayo party. It had no sombreros or tacos, as far as anyone knows.

Yet the University of Chicago’s Phi Gamma Delta, known casually as FIJI, has nonetheless been reported for the “bias incident” of throwing a party where attendees wore construction outfits.

Relevant to know: Its fraternity house has been “under renovation and construction for two years.”

But activists don’t care about context. If the left-wing arbiters of cultural appropriation get their way, FIJI’s members could face disciplinary action.

The Chicago Maroon reports that the party was originally scheduled for May 5, but its start time was revised to midnight May 6. Its original theme was “get hammered” – hence the Photoshopped construction hats on fraternity brothers, hammer and construction crane in the Facebook invitation.

The left-wing Latino student group MEChA issued a veiled threat May 4 to anyone who might violate “the fine line between celebrating culture on a national holiday and undermining the cultural dignity of a group through ignorant and ill-intentioned appropriation.” (Note to MEChA: May 5 is not a national holiday in Mexico.)

After “individuals wearing hard hats, reflective construction vests, and overalls” were spotted at the party, several multicultural organizations penned an open letter calling the party “racially insensitive.”

It discloses that a MEChA member directly asked a party organizer to change the construction theme, and that person agreed.

Because some people showed up in construction gear anyway, FIJI showed its “privilege and authority by blatantly disregarding the concerns of marginalized groups without facing disciplinary actions,” the letter says:

Moreover, this event was an attack on the mental and emotional well-being of marginalized students on campus.

 

My comrades might get violent with you

Greek letter organizations aren’t recognized at the University of Chicago – and the university has perhaps the nation’s strongest freedom-of-expression policy – so the university can’t punish FIJI as an institution.

That hasn’t stopped MEChA official Andrés Cruz Leland from trying to get individual members punished by the school.

Anticipating a “violent response” by his comrades, Cruz Leland told the Maroon he asked a residence life staffer for options on how to respond. That person recommended reporting the incident to the bias response team, so Cruz Leland met with team members:

Cruz Leland noted that he was told the administration does not see this incident as harassment as it was neither “pervasive” nor did it occur on multiple occasions.

“This undermines the University’s ability to have any disciplinary action towards the fraternity. There is some potential for disciplinary action…on an individual basis of members within the particular fraternity,” Cruz Leland said.

FIJI responded in a letter that explained the origin of the party theme:

The house has been under renovation and construction for two years, a comprehensive, drawn out renovation funded entirely by our fraternity alumni. Due to this seemingly endless construction process, the decision to host an event in the near complete basement of the House represented the end of a long-term yearning amongst the brothers of FIJI. The decision to host the initial “construction” themed event must be understood as a product of this construction process.

The letter says left-wing activists didn’t bother contacting anyone on the fraternity’s cabinet, so they were “initially caught off guard” by the “negative impact on certain marginalized groups” on campus:

The brothers of FIJI would like to reiterate that the intent of this event was not tied to the aforementioned holiday. The term Cinco de Mayo was never used to promote the party.

It said it investigated a “small number of brothers who did act recklessly” by connecting the theme to Cinco de Mayo, and it has suspended one brother indefinitely for making an “insensitive comment” on Facebook … about the party’s “mustache policy.”

Statement on Event May 5th, 2017 (1) by The Chicago Maroon on Scribd

Read the Maroon story, the MEChA and multicultural letters, and FIJI’s response.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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