The University of Virginia chapter of the Delta Psi fraternity came under fire last week for throwing a “cops and robbers” themed party.
The social media outrage machine complained the frat could be viewed as “encouraging racist conduct” by asking attendees to wear police or prisoner attire, according to The Cavalier Daily.
With word out about the gig, student protesters showed up to confront partygoers … eventually leading to the fraternity calling the police.
The group U.Va. Students United posted its grievances on its Facebook page:
The members of the frat wore orange jumpsuits, with bandanas tied around their heads, chains, and tattoos drawn on their arms. These “costumes” make a joke of mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex, systems that disproportionately brutalize people of color.
The predominantly white members of this fraternity got to take their costumes off at the end of the night, people trapped in the prison system do not. The women wore “sexy” cop outfits complete with hats and badges, some inexplicably had tear drop tattoos drawn on their face. Historically, the police have justified violence against people of color in the name of protecting white women, and in wearing these costumes, these women made a joke of that legacy of violence.
The group didn’t much care that attendees had no offensive intentions: “It’s this kind of willful ignorance that allows white supremacy to continue,” it wrote.
Inter-Fraternity Council President Henry Crochiere said that while the party’s theme was not “overtly reprehensible,” it was “potentially offensive” to the members of the campus community.
“As a result, we thought it was best to end the party and other Delta Psi events planned for the weekend in order to reevaluate the situation,” [Crochiere said.]
Crochiere said that he met with Thomas Green — president of the St. Anthony Hall fraternity and a fourth-year Engineering student — the next morning in order to discuss the events of the previous night. Green declined to comment for this article.
“The president of the fraternity along with myself had a meeting the next morning with [Asst.] Dean [and Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life Hal] Turner in order to further discuss the concerns of the protestors in a genuine attempt to respond in a constructive matter,” Crochiere said.
Crochiere also said the party was not a deliberate effort by the Hall fraternity to offend anyone.
“It should be noted that Delta Psi had no intentions to offend anyone, but they should have more foresight to be sensitive to a theme like this especially in light of recent events involving police both in Charlottesville and on the national scale,” Crochiere said. “Moving forward, it would be beneficial for all parties to connect in the coming weeks and have a discussion about last Thursday’s events so we can learn from it.”
In its statement, U.Va. Students United concluded that in light of what happened in Charlottesville, “it’s at the very least disappointing that members of the UVA community would so willing to make a joke of systems that kill and brutalize marginalized communities.”