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Oct 02, 2013 12:46 PM EDT

UC Berkeley Student Senate Condemns Culturally Appropriated Events Following Frat's Quinceañera-Themed Party

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The University of California (UC) student Senate has implemented a bill condemning culturally appropriated parties following a fraternity's quinceañera-themed event.

According to UC student newspaper the Daily Californian, a party thrown by UC-Berkley's Delta Chi chapter on Sept. 21 was met with criticism for culturally appropriating Latino culture.

Party attendees may have worn sombreros and fake mustaches. Wendy Pacheco, a UC-Berkley student and Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) Senator said the reported attire was "reflective of 'cholos.'"

"For people in the Mexican community, quinceañeras are usually for young women who transition from being a girl into a woman," Pacheco said. "That's very important in our community, and for someone to take that and turn it into a party scene and dress up with sombreros and mustaches and reflect those stereotypes of what Mexican culture is not OK."

The bill, SB 16, condemns culturally appropriated events, but cannot ban them because ASUC does not carry the force of the law. The bill also calls for the fraternity to issue a formal apology and urges the rest of the Greek community to be more racially sensitive.

Delta Chi president Cody Kermanian said the party was not meant to demean or trivialize Latino culture and that the idea for the event was conceived by Mexican members of the fraternity.

"A lot of the rhetoric in the bill assumes what our thoughts were without even talking to us about it," Kermanian said. "The intention was never to marginalize, and it never has been nor will be."

Liza Raffi, a Senator and member of the Greek community, said she attended the party and did not feel as though the costumes were offensive in nature.

"If there were derogatory costumes there, I did not see them, but I understand that everyone's definition of offensive is different," Raffi said. "I now understand that the idea of a fiesta plays into larger concern of cultural appropriation that has history stretching beyond the party."

LEAD Center, an ASUC student affairs unit, coordinator Dustin Page said Delta Chi's part was not registered with Interfraternity Council. Therefore, the LEAD Center and ASUC had no knowledge such an event would take place.

David Jamarillo, a member of Lambda Upsilon Lambda, the campus Latino fraternity, and a sponsor of SB 16, said he was not pleased with Delta Chi's party.

"We are a part of CalGreeks, and we feel very disappointed in the fact that the Greek community is continuously perpetrating acts of cultural insensitivity and racism," Jaramillo said.

This is just the latest instance of a themed part gone wrong. In late July, a Dartmouth fraternity threw a "Bloods and Crips" party, which of course was met with an avalanche of criticism.

In 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported that a UC San Diego fraternity was in hot water following a ghetto-themed event called a "Compton Cookout."

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