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After offensive photo, Penn State students plan silent march
December 13th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

After offensive photo, Penn State students plan silent march

By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN

(CNN) – Just two weeks after Chi Omega’s controversial party photo surfaced on Facebook, students at Penn State are planning a silent march today, hoping to increase Latino recruitment and retention.

The sorority members celebrated Halloween with a Mexican-themed party wearing sombreros and ponchos and pasted fake mustaches on their faces. They held signs that said: "Will mow lawn for weed + beer." Another sign said: "I don't cut grass. I smoke it."

The university president, the president of the board of trustees and other officials expressed deep disappointment and Chi Omega put its Penn State chapter on probation.

Members of the Latino community were outraged  by the photo with comments like this one from Liz Martinez on Twitter: “So many frats and sororities think it's ok to perpetuate stereotypes. It isn't.”

March organizer Manuel Figueroa said the march is not being organized in response to the Chi Omega photo. The march will be led by the Penn State University For All Student Equality, a student organization whose goal it is denounce all forms of racism, sexism, classism and homophobia and seeks to draw attention to social inequality.

“The incident definitely served as a catalyst for all this but it’s not the reason we are doing it,” said Figueroa. “There are grievances to a larger issue that we believe the university should take up.”

The Mexican American Student Association (MASA) will not be participating in the march and instead plans to work with Penn State President Rodney Erickson and university officials to bring awareness and change to the campus environment.

The organization would rather "not make this issue a larger one,” said Roberto Hernandez, president of the Mexican student group. “We are hoping to expand the Latino Studies program into a department. We are working with faculty on that.”

In a statement, MASA said:  “We ...  urge the university to reassert its commitment to ethnic and racial diversity. We hope that the university exercises its stated commitment to diversity. We look forward to working with the campus community in reaching these goals."

Students who are marching plan to peacefully walk through the campus in a silent, single-line manner.

Hispanic students make up 5% of the 45,351 undergraduate and graduate population on campus, according to the fall 2012 enrollment data.

Figueroa said they expect at least 50 students to participate.

Erickson commended the student movement to combat the issue, reported the The Daily Collegian.

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Filed under: Community • Diversity • Ethnicity • How we look • Immigration • Latino in America
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Kirk Miller

    The event was insensitive and disrespectful. However, these young people have learned a life long lesson. They have learned to project their intended actions and evaluate the consequences of them. Like many young people, they live for the present. Don't judge them too harshly as they have(or will) become better people because of it (although it took others to show them the err of their ways).

    December 28, 2012 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. James

    You people need to get a life.–Jeeze

    December 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. D.K.

    The problem is, these young women don't even understand the offense.

    December 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jorge

    Pedro, I was born here in 1958 and I think this place is full of people who are just plain crude and stupid, I'm glad you have a good sense of humor, though.

    December 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jorge

    You wouldn't know a Hispanic if he outqualified you for a job...

    December 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jorge

    Hoping to increase Latino recruitment and retention??? What kind of B.S. is this? Those fine examples of female grace held up those signs because the atmosphere on campus led them to believe that it was just fine to do so. Why would I send my daughter and her GPA scholarship to a place like that? It's all about collecting all that grant money, isn't it?

    December 13, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dr. Mayra Lopez-Cepero

    These "ladies" need to apologize to the Hispanic community, specifically to the mexican-american community. Other than probation of their chapter, it will be nice for these young women to learn about how rich the hispanic culture is and how much it has enriched the world and this Country. I will volunteer to read some of those term papers and grade them too.

    December 13, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |