Racist sorority photo? Penn State Chi Omega Latinos photo at Mexican-themed party under fire

(CNN) -- Penn State has had its share of controversy for a while, but this week it is getting some more unwanted attention.

The university's Chi Omega sorority chapter is under investigation after a photo with Latino stereotypes surfaced on a social-media site.

It shows a group of sorority members dressed in ponchos and sombreros and wearing fake mustaches. One woman holds a sign that says: "Will mow lawn for weed + beer." Another sign says: "I don't cut grass. I smoke it."

The university's Panhellenic Council said it had received concerns about the photo and that it does not condone derogatory behavior from members.

"The Penn State Panhellenic Council recognizes the offensive nature of the photo and is therefore taking the matter very seriously," the executive board said in a statement.

"We are addressing the situation immediately with the members of the chapter in conjunction with their national headquarters," it said. "Our council and all its members strive to hold ourselves to a high standard and are disappointed by any failure to meet these expectations."


Jessica Riccardi, president of the Chi Omega chapter at Penn State, released an apology to The Daily Collegian newspaper.

"Our chapter of Chi Omega sincerely apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes," she said. "The picture in question does not support any of Chi Omega's values or reflect what the organization aspires to be."

The independent college blog, Onward State, reported that the photograph in question was taken at a Mexican-themed party around Halloween. It was posted last week on Tumblr.

The connections to the sorority were discovered through members' names tagged on Facebook, Onward State said.

The posts have since been taken down.

Penn State public relations director Lisa Powers said that university officials have had conversations with Chi Omega members and that the women have expressed "deep remorse."

"The students in the photo are within their First Amendment rights to express themselves in this way, although we are certainly appalled that they would display this level of insensitivity and lack of judgment," Powers said.

"Because the right of free expression is guaranteed under the Constitution -- for both behaviors we disagree with or for those that we support -- we are approaching this as a teachable moment to engage this group of young women in discussions about their actions and to further educate them about diversity issues," she said.

Powers said the national leadership of Chi Omega will have to decide if disciplinary action is warranted. A phone call to the sorority's headquarters was not immediately returned.

The president of the Penn State Latino Caucus told The Daily Collegian that the photograph shows cultural ignorance.

"In terms of the Latino Caucus, the portrayal of sombreros, ponchos and mustaches are a huge over simplification of what not only the Mexican but the Latino culture is like," Ariel Coronel said. "It's being culturally ignorant, and I really do hope that the sorority tries to become culturally aware so this type of incident doesn't happen again and that people will realize that this is racially and culturally insensitive."

 
™ & © 2012 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


Comments

Read More

Ashley Taylor Wright threw her baby at a deputy at Pensacola Dillards, Okaloosa County police say Ashley Taylor Wright threw her baby at a deputy at Pensacola Dillards, Okaloosa County police say

A Pensacola woman, Ashley Taylor Wright, has been arrested after authorities say they tried arrest her for shoplifting and she threw the baby at a deputy as she tried to escape.

Stephen Amaral robbed while naked swimming woman distracts him Stephen Amaral robbed while naked swimming woman distracts him

A Tennessee man found this out the hard way when a woman dipped in his pool, naked, as her husband robbed his home.

Giant purple chicken stolen in Putnam County, three men charged with grand theft Giant purple chicken stolen in Putnam County, three men charged with grand theft

Putnam County investigators say it was "fowl" play when three young men stole a giant chicken.

Invisible man in Fort Pierce prefers his stolen cigarettes mentholated Invisible man in Fort Pierce prefers his stolen cigarettes mentholated

A man in Fort Pierce said he used his "powers of invisibility" to abscond with a carton of menthol cigarettes, but his conscience appears to have gotten the best of him.

David John Sirko: Suspected burglar left love notes, photos of underwear on head, deputies say David John Sirko: Suspected burglar left love notes, photos of underwear on head, deputies say

A Golden Gate Estates, Florida man was arrested Monday after Collier County sheriff's deputies say he broke into a woman's house, left her love notes and took photos of himself with her underwear on his head.

Randy Zipperer mac and cheese dispute: Florida man accused of stabbing brother after food disapears Randy Zipperer mac and cheese dispute: Florida man accused of stabbing brother after food disapears

Authorities say two Florida brothers got into a tussle over missing macaroni and cheese that ended with one stabbing the other in the stomach.

Walmart wedding: Wayne and Susan Brandenburg get married at Shallotte, North Carolina store Walmart wedding: Wayne and Susan Brandenburg get married at Shallotte, North Carolina store

For years, Wayne Brandenburg shopped at his local Wal-Mart three or four times a week. He never thought he'd pick up a wife, or marry her, there. But that's exactly what happened.

Man jumps on manatees video: YouTube, Facebook video posting investigated by wildlife officials Man jumps on manatees video: YouTube, Facebook video posting investigated by wildlife officials

Video of a man jumping on two manatees prompts legal investigation.

Filomena Tobias flips off Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls player, paper reports Filomena Tobias flips off Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls player, paper reports

The woman has been identified as Filomena Tobias, widow of CNBC commentator Seth Tobias, of Jupiter.

Etta Lopez accused of slapping deputy to help her quit smoking; charged with assualting an officer Etta Lopez accused of slapping deputy to help her quit smoking; charged with assualting an officer

California woman slaps sheriff's deputy to quit smoking