NEWARK, Del. – A Latino student organization at the University of Delaware is demanding that an honor fraternity expel members who attended a Cinco de Mayo party deemed by some people to be offensive.
Party photographs on a student's Facebook page, showed some students at the unsanctioned, off-campus party dressed as gardeners wearing work shirts with "Pedro" and "Jose" name tags, and a racist slur scrawled across the back.
Other photos pictured three students in red, white and green shirts with the word "Mexico" on the front, and "Spicy," "Full of Tequila" and "Hott" on the backs.
Craig de Mariana Aleman, graduate student adviser to Campus Alliance de La Raza, said that as a Mexican-American, the images hit him pretty hard.
"It's throwing this message at me that Mexicans are drunk, they indulge in alcohol or are sexually promiscuous," he said. "That was equally as hurtful for me as looking at the gardeners."
In formal apologies posted on La Raza 's Web site, the Phi Sigma Pi members said they did not believe their costumes would be offensive, nor were they acting maliciously.
"In no way were these outfits, or these pictures meant to offend anyone," Jacqui Croteau, one of the participants, said on the site. "I did not fully understand, at the time these pictures were taken, how harmful the idea of dressing in this way could be to a community."
Brian Brady, president of UD's Phi Sigma Pi chapter, said disciplinary action is being taken against the members who attended the party. Phi Sigma Pi's national leadership said in a news release that the organization does not condone discriminatory conduct or behavior.
The national fraternity, the local chapter and the university are investigating.
Also on Wednesday, Cincinnati's highest-rated radio station apologized for billboards depicting a Mexican flag, a donkey and a mustachioed man in a sombrero with the headline "The Big Juan." WLW-AM, which calls itself "The Big One," said it had taken down the billboards, which apparently were timed for Cinco de Mayo.