Penn State's image takes another hit with the surfacing of a Chi Omega, a campus sorority's racist photograph featuring ponchos, sombreros and mustaches.
The Penn State chapter of Chi Omega sorority it has come under investigation after a photo of it’s members, dressed in sombreros and ponchos and wearing mustaches, surfaced on the internet. The girls were also holding signs with racist remarks such as, “Will mow lawn for weed + beer.”
The photo of a Mexican themed party, thought to have been taken around Halloween, turned up on Tumblr and Facebook where members of Onward State, an independent campus blog, identified the girls as members of the campus sorority.
The president of the chapter, Jessica Riccardi, issued a apology for members’ behavior after confirming to the Daily Collegian, a student publication that the sorority is under investigation. "Our chapter of Chi Omega sincerely apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes. The picture in question does not support any of Chi Omega's values or reflect what the organization aspires to be," she said.
The Penn State Panhellenic Council executive board took action and is investigating the sorority. The council issued a statement to the Daily Collegian:
"This photo has been brought to our attention, and we have looked into the issue," Lisa Powers, the Penn State director of public information, said in a statement to Yahoo News.
Although the photo is in poor taste and depicts untrue stereotypes of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, the campus acknowledges that the photo doesn't break any laws.
"The students in the photo are within their First Amendment rights to express themselves in this way … although we are certainly appalled that they would display this level of insensitivity and lack of judgment," said powers.
This incident doesn’t help Penn State’s image so soon after the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal that sent the former football coach to prison for 30 to 60 years and brought the university’s former president, Graham Spanier, up on charges of enabling the abuse by covering up the accusations.