Issue of the Week LXV: Should Theta Xi Fraternity Be Reprimanded for Party Ad?

November 4, 2013
Written by The Associated Press in
National Collegiate Dialogue
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The University of Michigan reprimands Theta Xi, a white fraternity, for using derogatory words for blacks and women in a party advertisement.
The University of Michigan reprimands Theta Xi, a white fraternity, for using derogatory words for blacks and women in a party advertisement. Photo Credit:

The University of Michigan reprimanded a mostly white fraternity Thursday for advertisements for a party that used derogatory words for women and stereotyped blacks.

The Ann Arbor school sent an email rebuking the Theta Xi chapter and saying it plans to impose sanctions on the fraternity over the now-canceled Nov. 7 event.

A Facebook invitation advertised the event as "World Star Hip Hop Presents: Hood Ratchet Thursday," reported. The invitation showed a photo of a black man black holding a wad of cash and saying "we goin back to da hood again!!" among other things. It also contained messages that encouraged sexual promiscuity by women and used derogatory language to describe them.

"The language of the invitation and theme of the party denigrated all women and African American/black identified people through racial stereotypes and cultural appropriation," said the email, signed by Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper. "This behavior is offensive, disrespectful and unacceptable at the University of Michigan. It is unhealthy and harms everyone in the community. It is in direct contradiction to the values, policies and expectations of the University and will not be tolerated."

The Theta Xi party ad as it appeared on Facebook.

Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones said she held a meeting Wednesday with Greek Life Director Mary Beth Seiler, Interfraternity Council leaders and Eric Quang, Theta Xi's president.

"Obviously, the way the party was both conceived of and executed is in direct contradiction to the standards of our university," Jones told The Michigan Daily, the school's student newspaper. She said the fraternity planned to issue an apology. Fraternity members who were gathered at the center of campus for an unrelated camp-out early Thursday declined comment, the Daily said.

Geralyn Gaines, an undergraduate student and secretary of the Black Student Union, said she felt "complete and utter disgust" at the event.

"I love U of M, and even today I'm fundamentally happy. But it's scary to think that I sit in class with people who think this way and people that agree with them, people who legitimately thought this party was a good idea and was OK," Gaines said. "The invitation amplified stereotypes and used a level of disgusting language that it was evident they actively tried to offend us."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

National Collegiate Dialogue



Submitted by STBONF2013-14 on

This invitation is terrible. The fraternity should be reprimanded because this party was very insensitive. In order to combat racism action needs to be take, we can not just sit here and say well i dont agree with this. We need to take action. Speaking up and also reprimanding these students is the course of action that should be taken.

set backs for african americans

Submitted by STBONF2013-29 on

People like the ones in this fraternity are part of the reason why racism is still a problem today. When people impose these stereotypes on African Americans it is impossible for them to move forward and be seen as equals in society. The university needs to take action against the fraternity and make sure that something like this doesn't happen again. Its disgusting how people think they can degrade others for their own amusement and get away with it.

Blatantly Insulting

Submitted by STBONF2013-16 on

This invitation is indeed racist and derogatory to women. I am more shocked than disgusted because isn't it just serious common sense that people shouldn't be posting things like this online? With cyber technology so advanced nowadays, it is important to know that nothing will ever disappear once it goes online. In addition, I think the fraternity should be indeed reprimanded and punished for doing something like this. A fraternity is exactly what it sounds like, a brotherhood. The fact that they did not act in a humane way towards people of their own university, they should indeed be punished for trying to feel superior to their own classmates.

Could have happened anywhere

Submitted by STBONF2013-10 on

I found this article to be very interesting because I honestly believe that this is not something out of the ordinary to have been sent out at a campus. I could have heard those remarks spoken on my campus. The fact that the university is calling the group out on their remarks makes me very content to hear because as more and more people start facing the fact that those terms are no longer acceptable in society, they will eventually come out of style. I believe that the group was not trying to be rude to any group, but rather invite their party to embody a certain tone. That I understand, but agree that they way it was brought about was completely ignorant to the hurt it could be causing.


Submitted by STBONF2013-20 on

I think that this whole invitation and category of "party" is just terrible for everyone involved and I think that this should have never happened. Ive seen many party invitations and the type of language used on this, not to mention on Facebook is disgusting. College parties have always been know for their wildness and crazy actions, but to have something like this is just wrong.

Absoltue Disgust

Submitted by STBONF2013-25 on

This is a pitiful attempt to gain social status by this fraternity. This is a direct violation of women's dignity and african american dignity. This wasn't just a word of mouth advertising attempt but it was made physically visual. This was a representation of not only the fraternity but also the University of Michigan. This was a predominantly white frat which showed complete ignorance and only apologized because they were called out on it but they saw nothing wrong with it had they not been called out. This is a demonstration of racism and sexism that isn't as extreme as a blatant attack but it is just as harmful. The frat should be reprimanded to the highest degree because if they are not this problem will fester. This disgusts me.


Submitted by STBONF2013-22 on

I feel like these type of things happen on all college campuses. On a day to day basis women are degraded and african americans are disrespected. The type of people that use this type of language are closed minded and are ignorant to how others feel. I'm happily surprised that the college took action and reprimanded the frat.


Submitted by STBONF2013-12 on

I agree with the person a few comments back about how this could have happened anywhere. It is sad but true that these phrases are being used, and even though in most cases they are not intended to be racist or directed toward anyone specific, it is still very unsettling that college students think this is an acceptable way to talk. I do beleive most of it is influenced through rap songs which is something that again will go out of style eventually. I think I speak for many when I say I am glad to see that finally this way of speech has had some light shed on it and the University is taking action.

University Students Should Know Better

Submitted by STBONF2013-02 on

What is most shocking to me is that this happened at a university. These students are adults, who were aware of what they were doing. They purposefully encouraged stereotypes and used disgusting and demeaning language to describe women and African Americans. All this for the sake of a party. I think that these students were smart enough to know that this was a bad idea and decided to go ahead with it anyways. I fully support the fraternity being reprimanded.

Racism in It's Most Recognized Form

Submitted by STBONF2013-09 on

I think that this is just another incident that shows how racist (and sexist) thoughts are incredibly pervasive in our society and how portraying those thoughts in manners such as the one highlighted above perpetuate it. The degrading manner in which minorities and women are presented is amusingly; I think that the most pervasive form of racism/sexism is in a joking or lighthearted manner. I know that it's the most common (or at least the most obvious) way in which I see it on a daily basis. I think that we as a society really need to do a better job of standing up to "lighthearted" racism.

not surprised

Submitted by STBONF2013-15 on

Although i find this party invitation very wrong and terrible, it isnt something that really surprised me. These terms are thrown around all the time everywhere from dining halls to facebook. I'm happy that the school found out about this and reprimanded them for doing this. It's sad that this type of language and treatment of black people and women has become accepted in society. If this entire fraternity didnt see a problem with sending this invitation out, I'm positive that a majority of our society, especially college-aged white men would see no problem either. This is a step in the right direction but it needs to continue. Hopefully these guys will learn why this is a problem and not just get pissed that they got in trouble.


Submitted by STBONF2013-26 on

This is such immature and unacceptable behavior for especially for college students. They need to be more aware of the seriousness of such statements and need to realize it is not a joke. Stereotypes and discrimination are the root causes of racism and they need to be stopped.

not surprising

Submitted by CSULBF2013-10 on

As much as I want to say I am surprised by an article of this context, I am not. It is extremely unfortunate that in a country of freedom and opportunity there set backs continue to happen. As previously stated this could have happened anywhere. It just so happens that Michigan was the first to do it and get caught. I'm sure there have been multiple other invitations with verbage language such as the one above. It is disgusting and unacceptable! I feel as if this directly correlates to the rap/hip-hop music and the messages that goes with it. With such a strong following, it is no surprise that language and these degrading slurs have been used.

So typical

Submitted by CSULBF2013-08 on

This doesn't surprise me at all. Once you allow people the unmitigated right to say what ever they want this is what you get. I know people in my neighborhood who would've done the same thing as this group did. They think that they have the right to do anything because I quote, "it's my life and I'm not hurting anyone. Problem is they don't care who they hurt! It's all about them and their selfish tendencies and immature views that somehow allow them to think so little of others! I wish there was some way to change this dominant view of thinking. A majority of guys I know still have some views that would support a party like this. I don't approve of this type of behaviors but, a person at a more vulnerable age may approve of these things as fun from both sex points of view.

A different perspective

Submitted by PARKS2014-26 on

What is the point in having a "gangster" party? Was it because they are tired of partying in their own ways and wanted to switch things up culturally? I'm not sure if they were being racist or just trying to see how people in other societies spend their weekends? Were gangsters invited? Or was it just the white fraternity members? I could see both rich white students and poor gangster students coming together and having a lot of fun at such a party. Just looking at it from a different perspective.