*Another offensive party on a college campus*
By Christine Des Garennes
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 7:21 AM CST
A University of Illinois advisory board has imposed sanctions on a fraternity and sorority following its investigation into a "Tacos and Tequila" party held earlier this fall.
Members of the UI's Board of Fraternity Affairs and Board of Sorority Affairs found Zeta Beta Tau and Delta Delta Delta violated the student code as well as fraternity and sorority rules about alcohol use.
The Oct. 5 party was hosted by the fraternity Zeta Beta Tau and involved members of the sorority Delta Delta Delta. Some students attending the party reportedly dressed up as Latino and Latina farmers, gardeners, pregnant women and illegal aliens.
UI Dean of Students Bill Riley said some of the students' behaviors were "not just uninformed and insensitive, but some (students) were downright degrading in how they depicted themselves."
Several hundred students held a rally on campus in late October to protest the party and to urge administrators to condemn the behavior and take action.
Riley, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Renee Romano and Chancellor Richard Herman all issued statements expressing disappointment and calling the behavior unacceptable.
The matter was referred to the UI's office for student conflict resolution, which essentially administers campus discipline.
A hearing was held earlier this month and the boards of fraternity affairs and sorority affairs notified the organizations of the decision on Monday. The boards are made up of undergraduate students, alumni and faculty.
In their letter to ZBT and Tri Delta, members of the fraternity and sorority affairs boards wrote: "to say that members of the board (of fraternity affairs or sorority affairs) are disappointed in the actions of your members does not do justice to the harm done to our fraternal community and to the larger university community of students, staff and faculty. The blatant insensitivity and stereotyping behavior exhibited is in direct conflict with the values of your (fraternity or sorority), the UIUC Greek community and the university community more broadly."
The organizations will not be allowed to recruit new members during spring 2007. They were placed on social probation through fall 2007, banning events where alcohol is present. Zeta Beta Tau and Delta Delta Delta also were placed on conduct probation until the end of fall 2008, and will be monitored by an oversight committee.
In addition, the board recommended Dean Riley withdraw Zeta Beta Tau's certified housing status. However, Riley said he will hold on that recommendation until the board observes the fraternity's compliance with the other sanctions. If the certified housing status is removed, UI freshmen would not be allowed to live in the fraternity house.
The organizations were found to have violated portions of the student code which refer to the values of the University of Illinois, including respecting and valuing the dignity of others, and how students conduct themselves.
The organizations also were found to also have violated a number of guidelines within the sorority and fraternity system, including registering social functions and providing alcohol at social functions.
Both organizations will develop and implement programs for new members about multiculturalism and diversity. They will also put together educational plans for all of their members.
"These sanctions were ideas our chapter already planned on implementing," said Cassie Arner, Tri Delta alumni adviser. "We agree very much with the finding of the board; however, there are some sanctions we find disappointing," she added, citing social probation of the chapter, which limits the amount of events the chapter can sponsor.
"The chapter does feel that it now stands with an opportunity to affect real change on this campus when it comes to racism and cultural insensitivity," Arner said.
The sorority and fraternity can appeal the decision. Tri Delta has not made a decision regarding an appeal yet, Arner said. A message left Tuesday with the ZBT president was not returned.
There are 185 members of the UI's Tri Delta chapter and 115 to 120 members of the UI's ZBT chapter.
No students have been individually disciplined.