Fraternities and sororities at Clemson University decided to end “theme” parties that poke fun at a particular demographic group after a lengthy meeting Sunday night between Greek organizations and black and white student leaders, a university official said Monday.
The meeting came after a “Cripmas party” at an off-campus residence Saturday that spoofed the black gangster subculture and ignited racial tensions on campus.
Leon Wiles, Clemson’s chief diversity officer, said members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity apologized at the meeting to those who were offended by their event and said it wasn’t intended as a racial slam.
“They intended to just have fun,” Wiles said. “It was not an intent to insult or offend anyone in particular.”
At the Sunday meeting, organized by Clemson’s student affairs office, the groups also decided to have continued dialog on the racial climate on campus and to work together across racial lines on a common project, “so they can get to know each other better,” Wiles said.
“But they also realized through the course of the discussions that any kind of theme party that demeans any particular demographic, whether that demographic is represented on campus or not, is not a good idea.”
Senior psychology major Erika Fosu participated in discussions, including apologies from students who made comments viewed as insensitive. A few weeks ago, Fosu read offensive comments on her Facebook post asking other students to wear black clothing one day to show solidarity against Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo.
One white student asked if he could show up in blackface. Another said black students could go back to Africa if they didn’t like the United States.
Fosu said she will graduate next week without bitterness.
“It’s disheartening but has actually enhanced my Clemson experience,” said Fosu, whose parents are of different races. “I have a lot of hope in this generation.”