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May 30, 2014 02:47 PM EDT

UCI Fraternity Hosts 'Racist' Fundraiser


A fraternity at the University of California - Irvine has been accused of hosting an offensive fundraiser where students wore coconut bras and grass skirts, Campus Reform reported.

The Phi Gamma Delta fraternity was accused of hosting a charity event seen as insensitive and racist to Pacific Islanders. The incident has "prompted the school to have a "series of ongoing discussions and fraternity leaders" about cultural sensitivity.

"The administration and student affairs is using it as an opportunity to show to fraternities what cultural appropriation is and how they might be more sensitive, to be able to have their week of philanthropy that ends in a social event without offending others," Cathy Lawhon, a spokesperson for UCI, told Campus Reform.

People who attended the event, including members of other Greek organizations and unaffiliated students, wore items that are culturally significant to Pacific Islanders, including grass skirts, body paint and coconut bras, Save Gasaiwai, a Fijian student told the Daily Pilot.

The school's student government passed a resolution demanding the university to condemn the actions of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

Gasaiwai said these types of recurrent these and Greek events "hurt marginalized ... communities" and "fortify white male hegemonic structures."

"The fact that an institution of learning and an organization that claims to promote 'high ethical standards and values' is tacitly committing an act of cultural appropriation and publicly projecting their ethnographic ignorance should be a cause for concern for everyone," Gasaiwai said in a statement.

The statement, which was supported by the Asian Pacific Student Association (APSA UCI), includes a list of demands for the fraternity.

"Tell members of your organization to stop wearing our traditional/cultural attires, they don't know jack shit about its cultural significance," it states.

They also ask the fraternity to change its nickname, "Fiji, - which comes from the phonetic pronunciation of the group's first letter "Phi" and the "G" from the last letter, Gamma - because it is racist, Campus Reform reported.

He also said that while he appreciates the move by the student government, he's disappointed that university officials have not taken a public stance on the issue.

"If this was done to any other group on campus that has more people, the university would have issued a statement," he said.

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