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Nov 28, 2013 08:44 AM EST

Cal Poly Investigates Off-Campus Frat Thanksgiving Party Following Insensitive Behavior

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California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) has initiated an investigation into an off-campus Thanksgiving party by Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity chapter as it was deemed offensive to women and Native Americans.

The party 'Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos,' which is being branded 'racist' and 'sexist' reportedly had men dressed in colonial-era costumes and women in scantily clad Native American-themed outfits.

"Cal Poly is currently reviewing an off-campus party that occurred on November 16 that may have included culturally insensitive, sexist, and offensive behavior," university spokesman Matt Lazier said. "While the gathering was held off campus, the university takes diversity and inclusivity very seriously," Daily Mail UK reports.

Jeffrey D. Armstrong, university President, denounced the party and said that school officials 'will respond to any violations of the Standards for Student Conduct' following the outcome of the investigation.

"Let us be clear, events like these have no place in the Cal Poly community and are not reflective of the principles of The Mustang Way," Armstrong wrote. "Obviously, this was not a university-sponsored event."

On Nov 22, the university officials organized a forum at the University's Chumash Auditorium to allow students to voice their reactions. Inter-fraternity Council PR director Alex Horncliff apologized at the forum on behalf of all fraternities.

"We messed up. That is something that is clear. ... It is something we are very sorry for as a community of Greeks," Horncliff said, The Tribune reports.

One of the frat students claimed that the party was not meant to be racist.

"Personally, I don't think it was meant to be racist," said Danile, a Cal Poly student and fraternity member, who declined to provide his last name. "It's unfair. We are taught that Thanksgiving is Pilgrims and Indians."

Explaining why the party theme was offensive, Dr. Jennifer Rose Denetdale, an associate professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico, said, "Colonial Bros' ... is a reference to one of the most brutal, humiliating and devastating experiences under American colonialism."

Echoing similar sentiments, Tristin Moone, a citizen of the Diné (Navajo) Nation, who is a student of Native American Studies at Columbia University said that she was surprised at people who actually thought that this type of a party was acceptable.

"I think the mentality that went into the creation of this party, the mentality that thought this was OK, is ubiquitous in America," Moone said. "I'm worried about indigenous students in that institution not having an ally or advocate who can help mentor them, and guide students for a better understanding of Native peoples around the world."

 "I think (parties) like these are very reflective of how the dominant narrative is supported and nurtured throughout American schools and universities, and how it stifles and hinders and silences the Native American narrative."

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