University of Texas at Austin Considering Increasing Funds for Latino, Ethnic Studies as Border Patrol-Themed Party Sparks Protests
After reports came out about a University of Texas at Austin fraternity party, hundreds of students marched through the University of Texas at Austin's campus on Thursday to rally against the Phi Gamma Delta (or "Fiji") border patrol party and the way Hispanics were portrayed.
The march was organized by University of Texas' Latino Community Affairs, My San Antonio Express News reports. Students held posters reading, "Respect my culture," and, "Our lives are not a joke."
"It is clear they tried to stop the issue from happening," said Mauricio Garcia, one of the organizers of the march. "It's my understanding that the president sent out an email saying that (Fiji doesn't) support this. The problem is that people came here, and they weren't kicked out, so that means in some way that they condone this behavior."
Garcia estimated more than 300 students attended the rally.
After the school's newspaper reported on the fraternity's party where attendees wore sombreros, ponchos, construction gear and military uniforms, the school initiated an investigation into the gathering.
Garcia and the organization had a meeting with the Campus Climate Response Team on Thursday morning. The group and school officials discussed increasing funding for ethnic studies and the possibility of allowing Latino Community Affairs to have a role in the cultural-diversity requirement in the school. The response team will also mediate a discussion between fraternity members and the Latino Community Affairs.
The fraternity president, Andrew Campbell, recently apologized for "any offensive behavior or attire" and said the party was instead intended to be western-themed.
"We notified our chapter prior to the party via email that the theme was western -- not south of the border or anything Mexican related," Campbell said in a statement on Monday. "If any individual or cultural groups were offended, Texas Fiji apologizes for any insensitivity that our guests or members may have portrayed. It is never Texas Fiji's intent to alienate or demean any ethnic group."
The protest started at the school's Cesar Chaves statute and ended in front of the fraternity's house where police officers blocked off 25th Street.
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