A picture of Chi Omega sorority is setting off sparks at Penn State University.
The snapshot that started as a joke is bringing some serious issues to light.
It shows the girls dressed up in ponchos and sombreros, holding signs that some students call simply offensive.
“We are not going to stand back and let these issues go unnoticed. We want to set a precedent for the future,” says Laura Ariza of the Mexican American Student Association.
Jessica Riccardi, president of Chi Omega’s Penn State chapter issued the following statement:
“I am very sorry that our chapter hurt and offended people. I understand where and how we erred and I certainly will not condone this behavior in the future. Moving forward, I know that I will personally grow from this experience and am confident the rest of my chapter will, as well.”
Penn State’s President Rodney A. Erickson and the school’s board released a statement on Thursday saying they were dismayed and disappointed by the students’ behavior.
“The simplest of those lessons is that costumes that include blackface, or that parody or imitate a person or groups of people, are always offensive to someone. They convey either a lack of awareness about the human condition and human sensitivities or, worse yet, disdain for the thoughts, feelings, histories and experiences of others. They suggest a failure to empathize or even a failure to think. They make all of us small.”