Opponents of an Asian-themed party hosted by a fraternity at Duke University dubbed it the “racist rager,” and the frat responsible, Kappa Sigma, has been suspended by its parent organization.
The email invitation to the event, held February 1 at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, told attendees “We look forward to having Mi, Yu, You and Yo Friends over for some Sake. Chank You.” The fraternity later changed the name of the event from “Asia Prime” to “International Relations” after the party received criticism from Asian student groups.
The fraternity went ahead with the party amid the protests and having it called the “racist rager” and was suspended on Wednesday, February 6.
“The Kappa Sigma Fraternity finds that the actions which have been associated with this event are inappropriate and insensitive and Kappa Sigma does not condone such activity,” Kappa Sigma executive director Mitchell Wilson said in a statement. “This matter will be investigated and the fraternity will address this matter in an appropriate fashion.”
The same day the fraternity was suspended, the Asian American Alliance at Duke staged a Race is Not a Party rally and the Asian Students Association hosted an open discussion about occurrences such as this.
“Every year something like this happens. The frats apologize and then the next weekend it happens again,” Katherine Zhang, the alliance co-president, told the Duke Chronicle. “I hope that this time people can really be thoughtful and honest and try to come up with a lasting solution to racism and sexism here.”
“What has happened has made us really angry and it happens again and again on this campus,” Ashley Tsai, a senior at Duke, told the Herald Sun. “This is not just about Asians or one party or one frat. This is something that keeps happening and it’s time to do something about it. And that’s what we’re doing.”
Tsai joined the protest on Wednesday where they chanted “racist parties make no sense—don’t party at our expense.”
The fraternity is currently under investigation. Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, told the Herald Sun he wasn’t sure if any violation of Duke’s rules had occurred.
“The event was thoughtless and offensive but we’re not sure if it actually broke any rules,” he said.
The suspension by its parent organization means the fraternity cannot hold any events or activities until the status of its charter has been determined.
The fraternity apologized for going ahead with the party in an email sent to The Chronicle.
“Upon learning of the deeply damaging effects of our email to our fellow students, we should have completely canceled the aforementioned party,” chapter president Luke Keohane wrote. “The Duke Community in which we exist is one that we see too often as divided, and while our actions have brought attention to and widened that divide, it is our sincere intention to work to contribute to a United Duke.”
This isn’t the first racist party at Duke we’ve reported on. Back in November of 2011, a “Pilgrims and Indians” sorority party sparked controversy.