In the stupid fraternity tricks department, Duke University’s Kappa Sigma is making national headlines for an Asian-themed frat party Friday that it held despite concerns from the university.
The consequences have been swift and considerable. Hundreds of Duke students condemned the party in a campus rally Wednesday. And the national organization of the Kappa Sigma fraternity suspended the operations of the Duke chapter pending an investigation.
The party is igniting debate nationwide including on the Duke Chronicle, the independent newspaper on the campus, which stopped public commenting after nearly 400 remarks.
I read a lot of the comments, many of which went like this: “I can’t believe people get offended so easily. Pretty soon they’ll be shouting to ban Halloween… No more nuns, or cowboys, or beer girls… The problem is not THEM the problem is YOU. You are clearly ashamed of the “stereotype” — we who embrace the ’stereotypes’ of our culture live in relative peace…try it. So what if my people wore conical hats, or leather frilled pants, or a black tunic and cross, so what if they wore big sombreros, had pistols, or wore spurs, so what if they had lederhosen and drank lots of beer, or wear camo and have sunburned necks…so what…and you know if that is just a ’stereotype’ and they didn’t really do any of that…who the fu^% cares!! Life is too short. Grow up. Have fun.”
On the other side, there was this:
I am an alum, not Asian, but definitely offended. The Kappa Sigs were counseled by the university to not have the party, but did so anyway. They can’t be surprised by the backlash. Anyone who voluntarily put on stereotypical Asian attire, allowed themselves to be photographed wearing such attire, cannot be surprised that the pictures ended up on Facebook, and, quite frankly, no one has the duty to “shield” them from the backlash either. They may have acted out of ignorance, but ignorance has a price. This is an opportunity for constructive dialogue, and I hope that this is what occurs…Being accused of racist behavior is something that will make most people defensive and therefore resistant to examining the roots of their behavior (which may just be simple ignorance, or worse, a conscious effort to mock and antagonize a group of people), and to listening to an explanation about why their actions have hurt and offended others.
It is disheartening, but not surprising, to see so many commenters post statements in defense of the Kappa Sigs and the party-goers, and telling all those who were offended by their actions to “get over it,” and to stop being “so sensitive.” It’s much easier and safer to dismiss the protests as originating from hypersensitivity than it is to sit down and have a difficult but honest conversation about history, stereotypes, and oppression.
According to the Duke Chronicle: (Please read the full article before commenting here.)
A theme party held Friday by Kappa Sigma fraternity has drawn major backlash from the Asian community and others at the University and online.
At 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, several students, including seniors Ashley Tsai, Tong Xiang and Ting-Ting Zhou posted fliers across campus protesting a Kappa Sigma party that took place Feb. 1. The fliers included emails containing racially insensitive language sent out to party invitees and photographs from Facebook of costumed students at the party with their faces obscured. The actions precipitated criticism both of the party and of the fliering, and resulted in an official apology from Kappa Sigma.
“This is not just about Asians, one party or one frat,” Tsai said. “This is a consistent thing happening. We want serious things to be done by the student body and the University so that this never happens again.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog