To the Editors:
The faculty of the Latina/o Studies Program at Penn State would like to express their deep sadness about the recent pictures that have appeared on the web of members of the Nu Gamma chapter of Chi Omega sorority. In them, Penn State students are dressed in mock Mexican attire and bear signs with offensive and stereotypical messages. We clearly condemn this type of behavior and expect the University and the Pan Hellenic council to review the matter carefully, and if necessary, take appropriate action.
The pictures speak for themselves. They reveal deep ignorance, insensitivity, but worst of all a profound lack of thought about the implications of what these young people clearly thought was acceptable behavior. They probably assumed their actions were harmless good fun, and not meant to hurt anybody. Perhaps they assumed this display would be seen only by themselves and would not be damaging to anybody else.
The students were wrong on both counts. What people do precisely when they are not thinking, and when they think no one else is watching, reveals deep truths about their true convictions, or worse yet, about their poverty: of knowledge, of maturity, of plain common sense. We, the faculty of Latino/a Studies, have dedicated our careers to combatting this kind of thoughtlessness by teaching--the history, experience, culture and importance of Latinos, exactly the same hard-working people being mocked by these young women. We are here to help and hope there are lessons to be learned, not only by these students, but all of the Penn State community and beyond, in this deeply troubling event.
--John Ochoa, Director of Latina/o Studies, on behalf of its faculty.