On July 26, the brothers of the Alpha Delta fraternity at Dartmouth College, in cooperation with the ladies of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, hosted a themed costume party for their collective members, and we all know by now that this is only news if something really stupid happened. Sure enough, in 2013, the theme of the party was “Bloods and Crips,” and all of the men and women in attendance dressed like they were gang members.
SMDH, people. S my DH.
Naturally, people at Dartmouth were not too pleased with this theme once word got out that it went down, and the folks behind Dartblog, “Dartmouth’s Most Influential Daily,” immediately started reaching out to people to find out exactly what happened. According to an email from a Dartmouth student, who didn’t specify if he or she attended, it wasn’t pretty.
I work very closely with OPAL as an intern with the Office of Black Student Advising. We’ve received word that two weekends ago, Tri-Delta Sorority and Alpha Delta hosted a Bloods and Crips Party at AD. Individuals mingled for hours while dressed as bloods or crips while using racialized language. It then turned into a “ghetto party” with racialized language, speech and dress. Over 200 individuals attended this event.
That email, according to Dartblog, was being circulated by the NAACP, which also issued its own official statement and call to action, asking students to report this party as a “bias incident” through the school’s website.
You can report anonymously, but names will make the report more personal, more powerful. It takes 5 minutes and will make a powerful statement about this demeaning, degrading and outrageous event.
We are asking everyone to flood the bias incident account with our call for justice, right now.
Today we are dealing with a “ghetto” party, tomorrow it will be a Native American party, and soon after a Latino party. Students of Color are not respected on this campus, and enough is enough. The College has yet to deliver consequences to the aforementioned organizations, so we have to declare their lack of response as not only unacceptable but as disregard for our experiences.
Meanwhile, a representative of the Dartmouth Tri Delt chapter issued this statement:
We would like to extend our sincerest apology to the Dartmouth community and all those offended by the inappropriately themed recent event in which some of our members participated. We will be working with the college and Tri Delta Executive Office in order to continue to educate our members regarding cultural sensitivity and awareness.
And the Alpha Deltas were a little more elaborate with their response to the Dartblog’s request for comment:
Alpha Delta hosted a “Bloods and Crips Party” on the night of Friday, July 26th. The idea was never meant to be derogatory to any group, and was intended to introduce a costume theme to the party. While there was never any ill intent in the party’s theme, the brothers of Alpha Delta now realize that it was insensitive and thoughtless to make light of a very serious issue that affects many people nationwide, particularly young people. Gang violence is obviously an incredibly serious problem across America, and while we as a house failed to preemptively recognize the offensive nature of the party’s theme, the gravity of our oversight is now apparent to us.
Alpha Delta initially sought to deal with the problem internally. We have overhauled our internal management policy in regards to parties and themes, and we now have a much more rigorous process to approve party themes and ensure that no more insensitive parties get the go-ahead. We sat down with an individual who was originally offended by the party, and personally apologized for the event’s theme and our insensitivity to its gravity. The conversation gave us a greater understanding of the pain gang violence causes and how personal it is for so many people here at Dartmouth, and in the country at large. We have gained a greater appreciation for the very real effect gang violence has on members of the Dartmouth community, and the conversation has opened our eyes to a subject which we had never before fully comprehended.
However, we also realize that our event was not just offensive to a few people who attended the party, but that the party was objectively offensive. We want to issue a public apology for our oversight, insensitivity, and thoughtlessness.
The letter goes on to cite “bad judgment” on the chapter’s behalf and the author claims that the student leaders of Alpha Delta will be meeting with various campus groups to make amends. They also claim that “ghetto party” was never used in their descriptions of the party, so that should be added to any notes that you all may be taking in how not to throw a party.
As for that whole introducing a costume theme to a party, how about super heroes? Or favorite sports teams? Graffiti socials were always a personal favorite of mine. Regardless, I find it hard to believe that in a fraternity at an Ivy League school, not one person was smart enough to say, “Hey guys, this is probably a terrible idea. Yeah, it’s a terrible idea.”