The image in question surfaced on social media recently and shows Pennsylvania State University members of the Chi Omega sorority in sombreros, ponchos and fake mustaches. Two girls in front are holding signs, one reads “will mow lawn for weed + beer,” the other reads “I don’t cut grass I smoke it.”
According to the Onward State blog, the connection between the Nu Gamma chapter of Chi Omega and the image was discovered when examining the names of the girls tagged in the photograph, which was supposedly taken at a Mexican fiesta themed party around Halloween.
“The Mexican American Student Association is disappointed in the attire chosen by this sorority. It in no way represents our culture,” Cesar Sanchez Lopez, vice president of the Mexican American Student Association, told the blog. “Not only have they chosen to stereotype our culture with serapes and sombreros, but the insinuation about drug usage makes this image more offensive. Our country is plagued by a drug war that has led to the death of an estimated 50,000 people, which is nothing to be joked about.”
The sorority has seen other backlash around campus as well. Fliers calling the sorority racist were posted on the office of Fraternity and Sorority Life door with the image and the question “Are you okay with this?”
The Nu Gamma chapter is now under investigation by the Penn State Panhellenic Council’s executive board, according to the school’s newspaper, The Collegian.
“The Penn State Panhellenic Council does not condone any form of derogatory behavior from any of our members. Our council and all its members strive to hold ourselves to a high standard and are disappointed by any failure to meet these expectations,” the board said in a statement.
The national Chi Omega headquarters is working with the council on rectifying the situation.
“Chi Omega believes that dignity, self-esteem and respect are inalienable rights of each individual and neither endorses nor condones behavior that violates our organization’s policy on human dignity or the basic tenets of our Sisterhood,” Whitney Heckathorne, Chi Omega’s national director of communications, told The Collegian. “The Fraternity believes that personal degradation has no place in our organization, even if such behavior is meant facetiously or in jest. Chi Omega expects its members to share and promote the belief that self-respect, esteem, and a respect for others are necessary ingredients for healthy relationships.”