Various student voices sounded through the halls of the Bill Daniel Student Center this afternoon as demonstrators gathered in response to what has been called a “racially insensitive event” this past weekend.
On Saturday evening members of Kappa Sigma Fraternity hosted a “Mexican-themed” party called “Cinco de Drinko.” Photos and details of the event were posted on Twitter and sparked outrage among students.
Damian Moncada, president of the Hispanic Student Association, expressed his disappointment with what occurred at the party. Moncada said the theme of the party felt like a ‘slap in the face’ in light of hosting PURE, an event designed to foster unity and respect for everyone last month.
“A lot of advocates for the event have been saying that they were promoting Mexican heritage and Latino culture, and that is not the case,” Moncada said. “Whenever you are representing a group of people and just dressing up all the same and you are painting your face a different color, that’s not accurately representing people and I think you’re shaming people for being a different color.”
The Hispanic Student Association, LatinX Coalition and the NAACP collaborated to host a today’s protest called “Love Thy Neighbor.” Kristen Williams, president of Baylor’s NAACP said the organization was eager to be a part of bringing the situation to greater light since they experienced the same kind of incident a few years back.
“People should know that this isn’t about attacking the frat and it isn’t about attacking a certain group of people. This is actually just trying to administer unity and love for this campus. We’re just trying to bring awareness to the situation that happened,” Williams said.
The students marched through the SUB chanting “Dear Baylor, love thy neighbor.” After reaching Fountain Mall, students were given the opportunity to vocalize their reactions to the incident. Students shared their frustrations with the cultural climate on campus.
Many hispanic students who have parents that work in blue-collar careers talked about the sacrifices their parents have made for them to get an education at Baylor. Students like Calera, Ala., sophomore Grace Rodriguez said they were hurt that students would think their parents’ efforts to obtain their education was something to laugh at.
“My dad is a painter and my mom, she cleans offices for a living,” Rodriguez said as she fought back tears. “She doesn’t do it because you know, cleaning is great. She does it because she wants something better for me.”
Natasha Nkhama, who was an alleged victim of a racially-motivated incident last fall, said that she is sick of occurrences like this being a problem on the university.
“I’m just tired. I don’t want us to keep walking every time something happens and with as tired as y’all are of hearing about racism, we’re tired of experiencing it,” Nkhama said.
Baylor NAACP, the Hispanic Student Association and the Latin X Coalition drafted a list of eight initiatives for the university to implement as a result of this incident.
1. Implement Mandatory Cultural Competency Training for students, faculty, and staff
2. Punish fraternity (sanction or probation)
3. A formal apology from fraternity and university
4. Institutionalize all three coalitions (LatinX Coalition, Asian Student Coalition, and Black Student Union)
5. Create a multicultural cabinet through student government
6. Recruit more diverse faculty and staff
7. Recruit bilingual staff in financial aid and Admission
8. Implement the McNair Scholar Program
Dr. Kevin Jackson, Vice President for Student Life spoke to demonstrators after the protest and said the university will follow procedure in handling sanctions against the organization.
Baylor has enacted an interim sanction on the chapter pending the conclusion of an investigation into the party. The fraternity’s national headquarters also released a statement saying the chapter has been suspended until an investigation in collaboration with the university has been conducted.
As students head into finals, they said they hope administration will take more action and that things will get better moving into the next school year.
“To the fraternity, I’d like to say ‘I forgive you.’ I forgive you and I’m sorry you believe that Mexican heritage should be depicted the way that you depicted it,” Moncada said. “I can advocate for myself and tell the fraternity that I forgive them, that they’re wrong, and because I believe in justice that there should be a disciplinary consequence.”
Editor’s note: On May 4 at 12 p.m., the content of the story was altered to correct the details of the costumes of the party.