May 11, 2007
To the University of Delaware Community:
Over the past week, there has been much discussion of a May 5 party attended by several UD students that featured racial stereotypes of Latinos. Showing disrespect for another culture or group is not behavior we want to see at our University, and it is counter to the safe and supportive community we seek to be.
A good outcome of this unfortunate event is that the maturity and responsibility of the students leading the Campus Alliance de La Raza and the UD chapter of Phi Sigma Pi became apparent.
Opportunities for true leadership often arise at unexpected times, and this week our students have met that challenge. Students from both groups worked collaboratively to determine a response to the original provocation. The town hall meeting they arranged on May 9 provided a forum for discussion of the deeper issues raised by the party and helped begin the healing process.
Some of the partygoers were members of the Phi Sigma Pi and wrote letters of apology to the members of La Raza. Particularly impressive was that one of those students attended the meeting and apologized in person to those individuals her behavior had affected.
The actions of the students attending the party are not criminal, and we will respect their First Amendment rights. Accordingly, these students will not face disciplinary action through the University's student judicial system. However, the UD chapter of Phi Sigma Pi has decided to suspend certain of its members for one year, and other campus groups of which partygoers are members are now deciding on their courses of action.
Candid and respectful conversations have helped resolve this situation and have led to a better understanding of the perspectives of others. The decision by our students in the Campus Alliance de la Raza and Phi Sigma Pi to engage in such discourse is a wonderful testament to maturity, responsibility and leadership.
David P. Roselle