Letter to the editor

In regard to Pi Kappa Phi’s “Phi-esta”

I am proud of who I am. I am Catholic, liberal and sometimes a little outspoken. This is one of those times. I am a Trojan through and through, but first, I am a woman of Mexican-American descent.

A couple weeks ago, the students of the Duke Asian Student Alliance held a protest against a “racist rager” that took place on the Duke University campus. This protest, with over 500 people in attendance, received national recognition in the media. These students banded together to protest a fraternity party in which other students dressed as different Asian stereotypes, openly mocking Asian culture with costumes, words and hand gestures. Shockingly, the Asian students of the campus took offense.

Now, only two weeks later, a fraternity at USC is throwing its very own “racist rager.” The brothers of Pi Kappa Phi are holding a “phi-esta.” That in itself does not seem too concerning, but when accompanied by a blatantly racist photo and a statement saying that partygoers should bring their “sombreros and accentos to a night of classy fun,” the mockery starts to peek through. The description then goes on to clear up any confusion about what to wear by encouraging viewers to look to the photo depicting two shirtless Mexican men in sombreros for inspiration.

I love a fiesta and a good margarita as much as the next girl, but not when it is just an excuse to make racist jokes and poke fun at a different culture. There is a big difference between celebrating a culture and mocking it.

A few hours after the event was posted, the description was edited to include “what not to expect”: “border patrol, pickpockets, those kids selling you chicle gum, [and] Montezuma’s Revenge.” Classy, indeed.

Is this what Mexican culture has been reduced to? An entire country, an entire people, an entire tradition is recognized solely by negative stereotypes. Is it not possible to hold a party without the predictably offensive costumes and mocking accents? Will it be less of a good time if guests refrain from obvious racism? I highly doubt it.

It is offensive that race is so easily used as a party theme. This is not the first “fiesta” and I am sure that it will not be the last, but I’m not waiting for the party to be over before I speak up.
I’m not waiting for the pictures of drawn-on mustaches, illegal immigrants and gardeners to make the rounds on Facebook. I’m not waiting for my heritage to be ridiculed before I start my protest.

This is my protest. This is me speaking up for what I believe in. This is me taking a stand.

Though I find this event to be utterly disrespectful, I mostly just find it disappointing. I refuse to believe that other students on the USC campus — other members of the Trojan family — can be so ignorant and reckless. We live in Southern California with one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the country, yet we still face situations like these.

If you read this and think I am overreacting, then I am sorry for you. I am sorry that you do not understand.

I am Mexican and proud, and I very much take offense.


Melissa Morales

Junior, Political Science

109 replies
  1. Actually from Mexico
    Actually from Mexico says:

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions and insults.
    What I find funny is that fact that Melissa Morales isn’t actually from or holds residency in Mexico.. She probably doesn’t even have a Mexican passport.
    So, coming from an actual Mexican, I find it more offensive that someone like Melissa who isn’t even from Mexico, is using cultural sensitivity to get her article in the spotlight.
    Don’t get me wrong, ethnicity is ethnicity and I am not degrading her as a Mexican for not being from Mexico. The stereotypes highlighted however, directly impact Mexicans from Mexico. So for a person who has never had to confront these stereotypes in Mexico, or its insulting to Mexicans from Mexico, that they would try and take advantage of the tension with Mexico and America in order to solidify her article’s credibility.
    As a Mexican who resides in a border-town…”If you read this and think I am overreacting, then I am sorry for you. I am sorry that you do not understand.” You are overreacting, I feel sorry for you that you have to use your minority complex(which at this point is debatable since your from pasadena, NOT MEXICO) to get your 15 minutes of fame, I feel sorry for you that you do not understand satire.

  2. Josh
    Josh says:

    Such a ridiculous overreaction. Where was this girl when there was a “Delts of Hazzard” that encouraged party goers to dress up as “white trash” and “rednecks” for the night? Seems as though she is a bit selective in her protests.

    More importantly, to insinuate that this was intended to be anything more than a light-hearted themed party is laughable.

  3. Michele
    Michele says:

    Oh come on Melissa stop stirring the pot. The Pi Kapp fraternity clearly had no intention of insulting or demeaning the Mexican race. They were putting on a Mexican themed party and listed a few things most Americans tend to associate Mexico with (sombreros, mariachi, border patrol). I don’t see the Mexican community crying foul on Cinco de Mayo when Americans are having the exact same themed parties (sombreros, tequila, drawn on mustaches). I also doubt you have felt this way after Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the past.

    While Pi Kapp’s event description was insensitive to say the least, labeling the party a “racist rager” is stirring the pot. I don’t see anyway the fraternity could be called racist (usually defined as a hate for another race or believing one race is superior to another). They were simply playing with the stereotypes commonly associated with Mexico.

    Throwing the term “racist” around in modern America is extremely provocative and is probably what has gotten this article so much attention. However, in the future you should consider the power and effect of using such a word before you attack an entire fraternity and college’s character.

  4. wow
    wow says:

    This entire thread is so disappointing.

    I have never been so, so disappointed with the Greek system.

    First of all, all of these comments

    1) supporting the removal of this post
    2) hating on the Gamma Phi sorority (who didn’t even bring themselves into, was dragged into a terrible analogy by Drew from Pi Kapp – they merely defended themselves)
    3) commenting that if you are ugly or a GDI or a low tier organization you don’t deserve an opinion

    all solidifies the fact that the Greek system believes they are entitled. They are entitled organizations of students who pay thousands of dollars more than the non-Greek students for “programming” (aka. mixers, date dashes, “philanthropies”, registers, thursday night parties, a frat house) hence they deserve to rise above criticism.

    I may not agree with what Melissa has done, but she has a right to point out what she does not agree with.

    I also agree that the fraternities and sororities of USC have a right to defend themselves. But with logical arguments. I think that if you offend someone, albeit unintentionally, the best thing to do for you and your reputation is to apologize and explain yourself – not be defensive and inflammatory in return.

    Please do not defend yourself by saying you are trying to be satirical or that other fraternities throw similar parties or that the fact that “I’m also Hispanic and I have no problem with it.”

    That does not change the fact of the matter that she was offended.

    Pi Kapp, instead of flaming her and coming up with excuses, please contact her personally and resolve this issue. The people you’re allowing to post on your behalf is definitely doing worse for your reputation than Melissa’s commentary

    • AfroCentricity
      AfroCentricity says:

      What is truly disappointing is that you let your privilege and upbringing blind you to the truth. Contact her? Talk about it? There is no time for talking. Now is a time of action. Growing up white and rich makes you think you can always talk your way out of everything.

      • wow
        wow says:

        I’m actually Asian. And I’m on a full scholarship. My family are all immigrants. I’m not quite sure what your argument is saying.

        I’m confused… I feel like we agree with each other. I think that the best way to resolve this in the best way for everyone involved is to talk about it. Open discussion and communication is powerful.

        What exactly do you mean “Now is a time for action…”

        Please clarify what you’re trying to say

  5. Miles Howard
    Miles Howard says:

    As a Trojan from the Class of 2011, this unfortunate revelation from the row is deeply embarrassing. I love a good rager as much as the next bro, but demeaning an entire culture like this is completely uncool and backwards. It further propagates the notion – true or untrue – that the Greek system is little more than a bunch of Good Ole Boys.

  6. Greek Memeber
    Greek Memeber says:

    I believe you, Melissa, should have put much more thought into this article. Do you realize the potential harm you’ve brought to this fraternity, your own sorority and the USC row in general? I have a feeling the Gamma Phi social calendar will be shrinking… How are frats supposed to put a mixer together without some sort of theme that could potentially be considered racist? How about Sigma Chis around the world where every room was themed as a different stereotype? Are you going to consider their American Pi Kapp racist towards Americans?

  7. Trojan 2 Trojan
    Trojan 2 Trojan says:

    Look at this mess. All of you are Trojans and unless I’m mistaken, we are called the Trojan family for a reason. Here is a member of that family expressing how she feels about how her culture and heritage has been misrepresented and all some of you can do is argue with her emotions. As much as you say, in an attempt to defend yourself and your organization against the information published, the simple fact remains that Pi Kappa Phi had some descriptions on the event that were in bad taste. No amount of arguing is going to change that. I don’t know how many of you have ever legitimately experienced racism and prejudice in your lives but for some it is a daily thing and USC is supposed to be a place where that stuff doesn’t happen. If the party is a celebration for Cinco de Mayo, as some claim, then change up the description to show some more respect to the culture as a whole. Easy fix. This isn’t a CEOs and Office Hos theme where you are supposed to make crude descriptions and muck up the idea, this is a celebration, according to some of the bros that have posted, so make it into a positive one.
    I know that the brothers of Pi Kappa Phi are intelligent Trojan men and it’s up to them to turn the negative into a positive by revamping the event image and understanding that it’s possible to offend even when the offense was unintentional. This doesn’t make them racist or insensitive it makes them uninformed and if no one is willing to step up and communicate then they also allowed the situation to occur.
    I respect your opinion and your statements Melissa but I hope that in the future you take the time to educate your fellow Trojans and give them a legitimate chance to change things before making anyone into a villain. If you can express yourselves to the entire USC community, why did you not express yourself directly to the people that you took offense with? Open communication and mutual understanding is always better than image smearing and accusations.
    Instead of conflict, this could have been an opportunity to bridge gaps between Trojan family members and show some much needed love and understanding.

  8. Taylor
    Taylor says:

    To everyone who is writing critical comments, I hope you realize that you can be proud of being in a fraternity or being part of the Greek system while also being critical of some of its activities and being open to hearing criticisms. Actually, it should make you more proud to see that people within your system are open-minded, critical thinkers, because often the Greek system is (maybe unfairly) stereotyped as close-minded and sheep-like.
    To the author, thank you for writing this article. Don’t listen to the hate in the comments section. What you did by writing this was brave and admirable.

  9. not helping yourselves
    not helping yourselves says:

    The most tiresome stage of these controversies is the part where the offending group or individuals tries to turn it around like they’re the ones being persecuted. The event description was clearly insensitive. The only way you would not think that it was is if you’re part of an in group which has never experienced broad insensitivity toward your identity. As a white guy, I’ve never been discriminated against based on my skin color at USC, but as a gay man, I have faced insensitivity based on my sexual orientation. My point is, even if you are of the particular out group that is being made fun of, you do not get to declare that the person who has raised concerns about conduct is over reacting. Personally I would not have written to the DT if another fraternity choose to have a fag night and drink cocktails and “dress gay” as one memorably did my freshman year, but Melissa’s choice to air her concerns is valid. She didn’t call for the fraternity to be shut down, or even for the party to be canceled. She merely pointed out that the rhetoric coming from the fraternity was offensive to her. The defensive posturing of several men claiming to be from the frat on this board seems to me to be an unfortunate fight or flight reaction. Hiding behind the semantic argument that Mexican is not a race is just a straw man argument. Being Mexican identified in this country means dealing with many of the stereotypes in the party’s description during your life. I don’t care if you have the party, I don’t particularly care if it stays Mexican themed, just own up to the fact you made comments that could reasonably be considered insensitive, where a wide audience could view them. Apologize to the people who were offended and get on with you’re lives. The apology will cost you nothing and might go a long way to preventing this from turning into a much bigger deal than it has to be.

  10. Emanuel
    Emanuel says:

    I can automatically see what’s wrong with the party, but I find it strange that members of the fraternity can’t or aren’t even attempting to empathize. Moreover, I’m concerned that minority students are essentially bashing these organizations instead of pushing for a healthy dialogue about why this is “hurtful” and seeking some reasonable behavior changes…

    I think we as minorities tend to take it for granted that the vast majority of those who don’t identify as minorities have next to no idea of what is culturally sensitive and why it’s culturally sensitive. We also don’t give them an equal footing to express their perspectives outside of defending themselves from being attacked in media as “racist”. (Even though I don’t think Melissa says anything about the people being racist but rather that what they are doing has racist connotations)

    It sucks but it’s our job as those who are “sensitive” to these issues to educate others that don’t see this, I think, reasonable perspective. Regardless, it’s probably what has to happen if you want people to actually treat others respectfully…

    Emanuel Powell
    2012 Grad

  11. USC Mom
    USC Mom says:


    You need not be so offended here. Phi Kappa Phi from what I understand is a lower tier house and very few if any would have attended this Mexican themed party. You have done nothing but bring attention and publicity to this fraternity and likely this party will have move attendees as a result. Sometimes it is best to keep things like this to yourself. Likely as you mature, you will learn this as a valuable life lesson.

    Best of Luck!

    • USC Mom
      USC Mom says:

      Truly Sad Melissa,

      I just Googled “USC Phi Kap…” to learn more about them and Google auto-populated the words “Racism and Racist” and linked to this article. Melissa, you may have permanently defamed these boys with your article. I spoke with my son who’s in another fraternity earlier this morning and he said Phi Kap may have been on the rise on the row. Still solidly lower tier but rising with a recent larger pledge class. I’m not sure how this other commenter came up with middle tier.

      You likely owe them an apology!

  12. Holly2Valley
    Holly2Valley says:

    What I find funny about this letter and all the responses is that the houses in question here are totally irrelevent. Gamma Phi is is in the lower tier of sororities. Pi Kapp is lower middle tier at best with fraternities. Both of these houses try so hard to be relevent, but just aren’t. I smell a lot of self promotion going on on this board. No one cares about your Piestas and Italian all you can eat buffet fundraisers.

  13. George
    George says:

    Let me start by saying I am big fan of the Mexican culture. I love Taco Bell, Del Taco, Chipotle and soccer. I further believe salsa is by far the best condiments created to date. The Mexican people are some of the kindest and warm hearted people on the planet. Melissa, you are just plain wrong and your article does nothing to promote Mexican culture or bring any light to this situation. How did a real Mexican get a name like Melissa? Some how I doubt your parents, pushing one of those bacon-wrap hotdog carts after the SC home games (BTW: Delicious!) gave you a name like Melissa. Far too “white-bread” of name for a proper Mexican girl. Do you even care that your people have stolen the American hotdog, wrapped it with bacon and claimed it as there own? I do! I want our uniquely American food back! I’m mad and disgusted your people have stolen our hotdog and you need to change your name. Once you have corrected this, I am happy to take you seriously.

  14. 15 minutes
    15 minutes says:

    The way that this was handled is pathetic. If Melissa would have contacted the fraternity about her concerns, I am absolutely certain they would have responded positively. Instead, she writes to the Daily Trojan in hope that she will get her 15 minutes of fame for creating “Duke 2.0.” It is pathetic.

  15. Deb
    Deb says:

    I literally do not see what the big deal is. Every themed party that occurs on the row (I assume you know this since you’re in Gamma Phi) takes on some type of stereotype and it really seems like no one even notices anything wrong with any of them until something like the Duke protest makes national attention and stirs up the inner-activists in people who have, hypocritically and ironically, probably been to a themed party at one point or another. What’s next? Cancel the next Western themed party because it makes fun of cowboys? Cancel the next America themed party because we’re dressing up like Americans and mocking our own country? Cancel the next Around The World party because it makes fun of everyone? God forbid. No one is making fun of anyone. We are so obsessed with being politically correct and what’s not politically correct these days that it is actually just so ridiculous. Clearly Pi Kapp isn’t trying to be mean-spirited as much as they are trying to be fun and drunk-spirited (is that a thing?). For example, I am Chinese, and both my parents are from China. Did I boycott Sigma China last year? Of course not. People don’t throw these parties to be hurtful, so just because someone with thin skin finds it offensive doesn’t automatically make it racist, especially when the large majority of the stereotype in question is perfectly fine with it. No one else thought anything of this which goes to show you that events like this are not a big deal until someone with nothing better to do blows it out of proportion like you did.

    • Anon
      Anon says:

      You know the Western theme comparison does not make sense considering cowboys are not a race. LOL Racial stereotypes are much more hurtful than that. TRY AGAIN!

      If you do not see that it is a big please stop being ignorant and see both sides of the picture.

      • Deb
        Deb says:

        I never said cowboys were a race, I said they were part of a stereotype. Clearly you are not as smart as you think you are because “Mexican” isn’t a race either (races are based on genetics and skin color… Ex. there are White people and Black people and Asian people who are citizens of Mexico). Both are cultures (though Mexicans obviously share a nationality, which is not the same thing as race), so why would “mocking” Cowboys be okay when to you, “mocking” Mexicans clearly is not?

        Furthermore, they are part of an ethnicity that is not even considered a race. According to the US Census Bureau:
        Hispanic or Latino origin is independent of race and is termed “ethnicity” by the United States Census Bureau. The racial categories are: American Indian and Alaska Native, White, Black or African American, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, Some other race, and Two or more races. The distinction made by government agencies for those within the population of each race category is between those of Hispanic or Latino origin, and all others of Non-Hispanic or Latino origin.

        Your last sentence also makes no sense at all. I’m ignorant and don’t see both sides of the picture because I don’t think that this party is a big deal? Can’t I say that you’re ignorant and don’t see both sides of the picture because you do think this party is a big deal? Yep.

        In attempt to come off as condescending and intellectually superior, you have made yourself look so stupid, and I sincerely hope it was not with this ignorance that you were accepted into USC.

        I am not going to argue with someone who hides behind a screen and uses “Anon” as their name because they aren’t confident enough to publicly stand behind their words. Feel free to message me on Facebook if you would genuinely like to continue this conversation (though I can’t say I’m too interested in your opinion). facebook/deborah.y.liu

    • wow
      wow says:

      I agree that the debate over themed parties is getting out of hand and may ruin light hearted fun.

      However, I think it is perfectly valid for someone to bring up an issue with it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and it is okay to be offended. It is okay as a gay person, to be offended that someone uses “gay” as a derogatory term. It does not matter so much the intent (while it is worthy to note) but the effect it has on people.

      I also disagree that a majority of the “stereotype” in question does not have a problem with it. Please look up “false-consensus effect”. I’m happy for you that you are able to overcome cultural sensitivity in good fun, but that definitely doesn’t hold true for some people. And to be fair, most people in the Greek system are of Caucasian descent. So, I’m not quite sure where you are getting the “majority of people are okay with it” – because no one protests?

      Well here is one lady protesting her opinion, and suddenly she is the crazy psycho minority who is trying to ruin it for the “majority”.

      I’m of Chinese descent as well, and I have only once attended Sigma China – never again. I was there for ten minutes, and then out. Why? I walked and 80% of the party was made up of Caucasian people who were wasted – drinking and grinding and hooking up in kimonos, “rice” costumes, farmer costumes, Asian mom costumes, or skimpy outfits + chopsticks in hair.

      I get that it wasn’t meant to be offensive. But it was. It was incredibly offensive to me. My grandparents are still farmers in China. They work very hard every day just to make a simple living. They eat rice, everyday.

      And here was a party, celebrating stereotypes based on them because it was funny for said partiers. How clever could you be with your costume? I remember a guy who walked out in all white and said he was rice. He immediately proceeded to get high fived by multiple people who all commented on how hilarious his costume was.

      To be fair, beyond just party themes, I have encountered students who have yelled racist things on me at the Row.

      I have been yelled at for walking home with my Caucasian boyfriend. Six sorority/fraternity students hanging out on an unnamed house’s lawn yelled “the asian thing is so over, why are you going home with an asian girl?” and various comments about “fetishes” and “yellow fever.”

      I am a human being first and foremost, beyond my race. I do not think the Row is completely free from racism. I think it definitely exists. And while this racism may not stem from negative intent and while these parties are light hearted and I do think people are allowed to enjoy them, please do not overlook the fact that racism does exist, and it is okay for people to voice their opinions about them – especially when they are offended.

  16. Erik
    Erik says:

    It’s a bit unfair to deem this party a “racist rager” but maybe insensitive is a better word. I think we can all agree that this party was well intentioned. But don’t kid yourselves, you didn’t organize this fiesta to celebrate Mexican culture, you’re just using Mexican culture as an excuse to party (which is fine). As a minority, I can take these little jabs but they do add up, and maybe this just broke Melissa’s tolerance threshold. Again, it isn’t ignorance but rather insensitivity that can make someone feel uncomfortable, and one should not feel uncomfortable amongst their peers.

    On a slightly less diplomatic note, the overwhelming sense of entitlement that some individuals have displayed through these comments, many of which are coming from the said fraternity, is painful to read. Don’t get all butt hurt just because someone is challenging you, bro.

  17. Anon
    Anon says:

    I am a pi kapp pledge. Both my parents immigrated here from Mexico and my first language is Spanish and grew up in the streets of LA. I still believe this theme is hilarious

    • Cassandra
      Cassandra says:

      With all due respect, you may think this theme is hilarious, but you have to be aware of the opinions of others- the party was for everyone to attend, and sometimes humor doesn’t translate in the manner than you think it might.

  18. Sam
    Sam says:


    Actually, not really. Like one of the members of the fraternity itself said, there was a line crossed. Border patrol isn’t evoked for people in Mexico. The pickpockets and [poor] kids selling you gum is preceded by “what not to expect.” You know, as if that’s what these Pi Kappa guys consider a trip to Mexico like. Which obviously suggests these guys don’t need to party, they need to read a book.

    “Comments meant to..provoke a response”? Oh, you mean like words?

    And with your use of analogy we could also say, “why let men join fraternities, it just perpetuates the stereotype of the dull, druggie, tasteless male.”

    Which oh goodness, we certainly know is not true.

    Though let’s have THAT theme party. <–(That's satire.)

    I'm kidding. Of course that would be in bad taste. And probably a little boring in my opinion.

    ps. To that guy making "A Bold Claim," you don't make sense. First you say she's making a "bold" accusation to call everyone affiliated with that party a racist. Then you say "maybe you're not slandering the attendees." You can't have both.

    And btw, there's a difference between Mark Twain and the "description's creator." Mark Twain was funny.

    • A bold claim
      A bold claim says:

      obviously the guys dont think mexico is just border patrol & kids selling gum, since that is just the border, not even mexico. By saying that is ‘what not to expect’ they are acknowledging how bad that stuff is.

      i’d be be down for a ‘frat’ themed party. it would be like Jimmy Tatro’s videos: a mockery of ‘frat’ culture. i think it would be funny, but we can never have a themed party because somewhere in the world might find it offensive.

      Sorry it was hard for you to understand Sam. I said I believed she was accusing everyone who would have attended the party of being racist. Then i thought that maybe that’s not the case. Maybe she isn’t slandering the attendees, just the party description writer. Then i wrote a response to that. In other words i wrote a response to both possibilities because i didn’t want to assume one or the other because i don’t know what Melissa thinks.

      I told this to someone else but apparently it was unclear: I asked Melissa if she understood Mark Twain novels: ‘Do you appreciate Mark Twain?’. Mark Twain is a famous satirist so if she understood Mark Twain she should clearly see the very cheesy satire in the party description.

  19. A bold claim
    A bold claim says:

    First I’d like to say that some of the truly hurtful, slanderous, rude, & tasteless comments on here should not be implied to be from a brother of Pi Kappa Phi.

    To Melissa,

    I’m bitter sweetly enjoyed that you brought this up because I wanted to address the Duke article this morning. Now it is even more relevant to me.

    I find YOUR letter to be utterly disrespectful to my fraternity. I also find it disappointing. I refuse to believe that other students on the USC campus — other members of the Trojan family — can be so ignorant and reckless. To follow you in making the extremely bold accusation of calling me, my fraternity, & everyone who will attend this party a racist with such little evidence or knowledge of even a fraction of them.

    Regardless, I question you motives for writing this article. I may assume you’re riding the skirt tails of the aforementioned Duke article because it is extremely likely that you’ve been to a themed party that you have not gone up-in-arms about. In this case I wish you’d have thought about the consequences your inflammatory article would make before you impulsively tried to take ‘racist ragers’ viral. You may have likely ruined an otherwise good time for many people. Further, your lone article may have slandered the reputation of my fraternity & detracted from the years of blood, time, sweat, money, & tears of every man that has worked to build a positive reputation for it over the years. Also, you have ironically drawn attention to your stereotyping of fraternity culture with your assumptions towards our intentions & beliefs without knowing us & before we even held this event.

    However; maybe you are not slandering the attendees but the description’s creator. In this case you truly do not understand satire. Do you not appreciate Mark Twain? Do you not understand the effectiveness of comedy to delicately & indirectly bring to light controversial issues? Do you not appreciate the role of Feste in ‘The Twelfth Night’? Do you take ‘Team America’ so literally that you do not understand the stereotypes it brings to light through mockery that would otherwise cause conflict if address through another medium? Do you find the Mexican section of ‘Small World’ at Disneyland to be racist because the majority of boys are wearing sombreros… everyone in Mexico doesn’t wear a sombrero & dance all day right?

    I’m in the house & you retaliated so quickly that you’ve seen things on the description even I hadn’t. Much of what you have a problem with was immediately taken down when we saw that it could be deemed offensive by people who take things too literally & cannot appreciate satire without a lengthy legal disclaimer. Personally I would have left every controversial, blatantly stereotypical, & clearly satirical statement on that description because it brought to light the fact that all those stereotypes still exist. Also, nothing in the description encouraged ‘gardener’ or ‘illegal immigrant’ costumes. I don’t see what you expect people to wear if not a sombrero & a Mexican accent (things I find quite beautiful for people to experience) since if it was a truly literal Hispanic party everyone would show up in normal clothes right? By saying what to bring & ‘what not to expect’ we were encouraging people to avoid stereotypical costumes related to border patrol, child labor, & crime in favor of sombreros & accents. By the way accent’o’s is satire on the many people who do not understand the Spanish language’s use of gender distinction in words. It’s a subtle joke reminding people that not all words in the Spanish language have an ‘o’ attached. Good to know that literary device fell on deaf ears =/

    If you read this and think I am under-reacting, then I am sorry for you. I am sorry that you do not understand satire.

    I am Mexican and proud, and I very much take offense to this article.

    Proud to Be

    • Lily J.
      Lily J. says:

      HAHA! Oh yes. A brilliant satirical piece utterly ruined by social consciousness. You poor poor thing. I might have to print this out and bring it to one of my classes. Hands down the most illogical series of arguments I’ve seen in a while.

      I don’t even think your aware of how satire actually functions……
      How dare Melissa interrupt such an intellectual endeavor, such a “delicate” display of cultural analysis, such an illuminating example of tropes that would otherwise be ignored and forgotten by the ignorant masses.

      • come on now
        come on now says:

        Lily J

        While I hate to be “that” guy, I just could not help but notice that your attempted eloquence in your comment (against the previously written post) contained a very basic grammar mistake.

        Please at least pretend to proof-read your comment before you go about making fun of other people. Big words and fancy sentence structure does not make you seem any smarter or better than the people you are trying to belittle, when you can’t even get a simple concept like “you’re” and “your” correct.

        The fact that someone like yourself would try to represent an idea or (God forbid), this institution, with mistakes and an attitude like that scares me more than the thought that a few frat guys just wanted to have an excuse to drink tequila and have an easy costume theme.

      • A bold claim
        A bold claim says:

        The description is full of sarcastic, blatantly racist stereotypes so the writer clearly does not believe what he wrote & is therefore not trying to be racist. It was very very blatant satire…

        Satire: use of wit to criticize behavior: the use of wit, especially irony, sarcasm, and ridicule, to criticize faults

        to help you understand: the writer used SARCASM to CRITICIZE FAULTS. Those faults are the commonly held stereotypes about Hispanic culture.

        Also, next time i’ll use bullet points. I did address a lot of loosely connected issues. I can understand how it may have been hard for you to follow.

      • In absolute agreement
        In absolute agreement says:

        ^ I just laughed reading your post Lily. Intellectual endeavor? What are you smoking? (Must be some crazy marijuana). How about demeaning a whole fraternity and attempting to tarnish their reputation? Think before you write.

    • LOL
      LOL says:

      Homeboy compared his fraternity’s sorry excuse for satire to Mark Twain……..
      Let’s be real, if your Thursday night party really was such a clever parody of harmful Mexican stereotypes, why would your brothers be scurrying around trying to play this off as a cultural celebration? Cause the public can’t handle your literary genius?

      • A bold claim
        A bold claim says:

        I did not compare what was probably a 5 minutes of thought party description to works by Mark Twain. I was asking Melissa if understands Mark Twain (‘do you appreciate Mark Twain?’) because he is known for his satire & if she cant see blatant satire in the party description she probably doesn’t see it in a sophisticated Mark Twain piece.

        And it probably got taken down because its much easier to appease sensitive people like Melissa & continue about our days then deal with a massive conflict. I say in my message that i’d have loved to leave it up & make it even more stereotypical because you’re supposed to hate who wrote it. The writer intentionally embodies an ignorant bigot to make you disagree with his stereotypes & realize how stupid it would be to be like him & hold those same stereotypes.

        i cant understand how literally this was taken. Someone intentionally acts like a racist to mock the ignorance of stereotypes & people actually believed the writer is racist.

  20. Christine
    Christine says:

    As philanthropy chair of Gamma Phi Beta, I just want to clarify that there was no theme to our “Have a Heart” philanthropy event. Drew, perhaps if you had stopped by to support our cause, you would have been better informed. The purpose of “all you can eat,” which has been a tradition for this particular philanthropy, was not meant to be associated with “Italy’s problem with obesity” whatsoever. The point of “all you can eat” for $5, was my attempt to get as many people to come to our philanthropy as possible, so we could raise as much money as we can to help support USC Troy Camp and the McPherson Foundation, which is founded by one of our sister’s family. In addition, I chose spaghetti as the meal out of consideration for our chef, who has to cook for 300+ guests and spaghetti is convenient and easy to make. It shocks me that you would even label a candid and genuine philanthropy as “racist” based on your own false assumptions, and then compare it to a fraternity party, calling them “very similar.” Assuming that your party was in fact, “planned with good intent,” it is still widely different from the purpose of a philanthropy.

    • well there you go
      well there you go says:

      This is the problem exactly. People see things differently. Some see the party as racist, some see your philanthropy as racist, and some see neither as racist. In fact, the people who planned both were not trying to be racist but there were aspects that may have seemed racist.

    • Drew
      Drew says:

      I most definitely did not see your philanthropy as racist at all. Please reread that paragraph of my comment. I most definitely wrote about the absurdity of that statement. My point was that anything can be seen as anything under a very narrow lens.

      Sorry for the confusion.

  21. Word choice
    Word choice says:

    By definition, for something to be racist, it has to target a particular race.

    “Mexican” is not a race, any more than “American” is a race. Rather, it is a culture and a national identity.

    You mean to using some form of the word “stereotype.” Precise word choice is important when constructing a persuasive argument.

  22. PJ
    PJ says:

    I graduated from SC in 2012 and was in a fraternity for 3 1/2 years. I find it hilarious that suddenly this is a big deal. In my time at SC we threw at least one “South of the Border” party every semester and no one ever said a word. My only guess as to why this party is getting bad press is because maybe it is a registered and a description was made on Facebook.

    We also had Hawaiian themed parties where we swapped sombreros for aloha shirts. Where was the outrage then? Shouldn’t that have been a stereotype aimed at Hawaiians? If you are so proud of being Mexican then why are you so offended when others want to wear something that celebrates your culture while celebrating the weekend with their friends?

    The real reason they chose this theme, and let’s be real, is because it’s an easy theme to dress up for, they probably like tequila, and they want to get drunk in a festive environment. I highly doubt the reason was to mock Mexicans and I guarantee there are Mexican Americans in their house who are treated as equals. I understand that the description did get out of hand a bit and why some of it offended you, but I refuse to think that parties such as these are a full on mockery of Mexican culture. Oh yeah and one more thing I’m also Mexican. And I’m proud.

  23. Someone who cares
    Someone who cares says:

    Whatever the disagreements may or may not be, I think this post should come down. While Melissa posits a valid argument, demeaning the fraternity as a whole is unfair to those associated with it and who did not make the event description. Some may argue that it was in bad taste others may disagree. I think for the benefit of both Pi kappa phi and Melissa, this post should be taken down. Pi kappa phi realizes its mistake and will handle the situation accordingly. Melissa’s voice was heard and the fraternity responded by removing the event. It is not their intention to instigate negativity towards anyone or any race and taking the event down shows that we acknowledge that. For the credibility of the fraternity, I think this is the work of one person and the whole fraternity should not be punished for it. Good day to all and God bless

    • Lauren
      Lauren says:

      It’s more than just the event description. It’s the event in its entirety, and I’m sure that one person is not solely responsible for the entire event. Taking this post down silences a valid point. It sends the message that making sure a fraternity looks good is more important than bringing attention to racism at USC. Even if Pi Kappa Phi truly understands that their actions were wrong, and based on Drew’s response I don’t believe that’s the case, the fact that people are making comments on this article in defense of the party says that there’s a larger group of people who don’t understand the issue. People don’t see a problem, and that’s the very reason why people need to see this letter.

      • Disappointed
        Disappointed says:

        Lauren, you saying that there is a problem is your own opinion. I’m not going to comment on what I think of the party, I just want to say that you thinking there is a problem is your opinion. I personally think that it is absolutely ridiculous for you to think that every single person should see this as a problem. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I don’t think that you should not be saying that one opinion is either right or wrong, because an opinion cannot be right or wrong. There is nothing wrong with expressing your opinion, but please don’t try to force your opinion on others and say that any opinion that is not yours is wrong. It’s just not fair.

        • Um
          Um says:

          It’s really sad if you think it is an “opinion” that we need to address the fact that racism is still such a huge problem in America.

          PS “opinion” count in your comment: 8

          • Clarification
            Clarification says:

            Her views of the party is her opinion. I highly doubt pi kapp meant anything bad/racist/malicious by it and by this thread, I think it’s obvious that many people believe the fraternity did not mean anything bad by it. Her thinking this is bad or inappropriate is her opinion. Many believe there’s an issue with the party, many don’t. All I’m saying is she shouldn’t try to say that people who feel differently than her are wrong.

            PS who cares how many times I said opinion.

          • Mike
            Mike says:

            Racism isn’t the problem here. People being easily offended by what they believe to be racism seems to be the problem. Racism implies coming from a place of hate, and trying to bring down or belittle a group. From what I can tell, that’s not the case in this particular situation. Some of the words or phrases used in this Facebook event may have been a bit off-color, but I don’t think that the person who wrote the event page or the house as a whole was doing it with any hatred intended, but rather comedy or satire. Using this as evidence that “racism is still such a huge problem in America” is like watching Tosh.0 and and getting the same conclusion. And really, I’m guessing all anyone wanted was an easy party theme and everything has gotten blown out of proportion. If the event page was written with better tact, this party would have gone down just like every other Mexican or Cinco de Mayo themed party.

          • Lily J.
            Lily J. says:

            “Racism implies coming from a place of hate, and trying to bring down or belittle a group.”

            Yeah no……..
            Let us open a book on Sociology no? Intention does not define oppression….

          • Mike
            Mike says:

            Definition 1 on Merriam-Webster: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race ”

            I’d say that there’s an implication of hatred and/or belittling based on this definition of racism.

            Also, please tell me where anything that has been said promoted a sense of inherent superiority of a race. Sombreros, border patrol, and kids selling gum are examples of racial stereotyping perhaps, but I wouldn’t say that naming those things necessarily means that this person believes that his race is inherently better than another’s.

      • Someone who cares
        Someone who cares says:

        I am appalled that you would think an entire fraternity to be racist. Your claim proves your ignorance. People see the problem, and that’s why the event was taken down. I don’t understand what is so hard for you to see here. And its not about “looking good”, more about not being STEREOTYPED OURSELVES AS RACIST, BECAUSE WE ARE NOT. Again, it was one person’s actions, not the actions of every single member of the fraternity. If this is not sufficient enough for you to understand, I’ll give you my e-mail and explain to you more thoroughly what has ACTUALLY transpired.

  24. Laura
    Laura says:

    I agree with Drew. Anything can be contorted to be much more severe than it was intended.

    Also, I know for a fact that the description of the event was the work of one individual and at the outbreak reactions to it many members of the fraternity urged him to take it down and that it didn’t represent the values of the frat or its brothers.

  25. ?
    ? says:

    Last mexican I knew about in pi kap was nearly kicked out for rape allegations if I recall correctly. Might want to pick some classier Mexicans.

    • really...?
      really...? says:

      I think you need to get the entire story straight before you post gossip and slander on a website. You clearly know nothing about what happened.

    • Drew
      Drew says:

      We have 8 hispanic initiated members in our fraternity which is over ten percent of the entire house. Please refrain from throwing information out there without any actual evidence.

    • Yea..
      Yea.. says:

      Allegations being the keyword. Girls falsely accuse guys all the time of that stuff for whatever reason and do not think about whose life they are ruining. People like you are pathetic.

      • wow
        wow says:

        Did you actually just say that?

        I’m incredibly disappointed in this comment.

        “Girls falsely accuse guys all the time of that stuff for whatever reason and do not think about whose life they are ruining.”

        Excuse me?

        In my freshman year, I was at an unnamed fraternity house, and some guy kept hitting on me. We were both inebriated. I agreed to one kiss, and nothing more. Soon after, he literally picks me up and I’m yelling for him to stop. His fraternity brothers are laughing because they think we’re just joking around. I am not. He takes me to one of the back rooms and tries to force me to have sex with him. He held me down and didn’t stop until I started sobbing, and he freaked out and walked out.

        I was a freshman and didn’t want to say anything. I only told a few close friends. Do you know why? Because people like you (“yea…”) in fraternities seem to think that if a girl accuses a guy for attempting to rape her, she’s ruining his life.

        Oh my bad. He only tried to rape me, no big deal. Excuse me for my ulterior motives. I really was just MAD he wouldn’t date me after trying to rape me.

        The sad thing is, over this anonymous commenting process, you can see the attitudes of a lot of fraternity members.

        I don’t want to generalize, so I won’t judge your whole house on it.

        But shame on you. Shame on you for assuming that girls falsely accuse guys for no reason.

        For the record, I didn’t ever accuse this guy. I was too scared his fraternity brothers were going to hound me for “ruining their fun” and their “reputation” – I mean, f*** b****** get money right?

  26. Hitler
    Hitler says:

    What’s the address and when does it start? I hope my decidedly non-Latin mustache doesn’t preclude me from a good night of clean fun.

  27. Drew
    Drew says:

    Hi there,

    As a member of the fraternity in question, I have never seen racism or racial dominance influence the decisions we make as a fraternity. We have had many themed parties and I honestly feel that none (including this one) were created to inspire hatred of any kind, to perpetuate stereotypes or in a way that is ignorant of preexisting social constructs. As a Spanish-speaker and having lived a significant portion of my life in the country of Spain, I could equally say that this party attempted to mimic the fiestas, and possibly the stereotypes, of the predominately white and Arab Spanish population. Thus, this becomes a question of culture versus race. Rather, we wished to appreciate Spanish, Mexican, and Latin American cultures. Sombreros are not a form of racism but an art, and an appreciation for tequila, margaritas, and coronas is high class and an acquired taste.

    The great sorority sisters of Gamma Phi Beta at USC recently had an “all you can eat” fundraiser for their philanthropy. The theme for the event was Italian. I couldn’t even begin to attack this event as racist against Italians because none of you reading this would take me seriously. Only Italian food was served, and the event probably had some Italian music and maybe even some simple decor. This event and Pi Kappa Phiesta, I feel, are very similar; both were planned with good intent. But nothing is stopping me from pointing out Italy’s low economic postion, show up in a mime costume, and laugh at Italy’s problem with obesity in relation to the “all you can eat” function of the event. While this is outlandish, this is what I feel you have done to our event.

    While we have canceled the party in response to this article, I feel we need to rethink how we view race in America. Distinguishing cultural characteristics that may be associated to race, is something that is taboo in our society that attempts to be too politically correct, but how can any reasonable discussion of race and the perpetuation of other cultures in America (which is a good thing) take place if we must be hush hush about the subject?

    I also am a little personally upset, because I was going to dress the same way I did for the model UN in sixth grade. I wore a sombrero and a poncho, and I wore them proudly. There was no racism attached, and millions of other hispanic and non-hispanic children wear just the same for their model UNs, their Spanish projects, their world fairs.

    I would like to end with a question. While I feel I have elaborated to my full extent on the racial implication that certain events have, where is the opposition to the outbreak of “thrift store” parties that have exploded on campus. Many greek and non-greek organizations (including businesses such as the 9-0) have held “thrift store” parties that essentially consist of wealthy USC students dressing “down” as the lower class residents of the community that surrounds USC. Everyone participates without thinking about the implications these parties have on the imbalance of class, nor do they even pause to notice the members of the lower class who have to sell their clothing to Goodwill while the students laugh and browse through the “ridiculous” and “disgusting” clothes on the racks. (two words I have heard used to describe the apparel that basically originates from the South Central community).

    Please contact me Melissa Morales if you would like to continue this conversation. I think it is wonderful because I have found myself on both sides of this argument of whether it is okay or not okay to notice racial stereotypes. I would like to hear further input from you.

    Drew Klopfer
    Freshman, Undecided

    • Jessica
      Jessica says:


      While I support the opinion’s expressed by Melissa and do not agree with some of the points you brought up, I appreciate your well thought out response. Clearly we will not all agree on these controversial issues but I am glad that you have expressed your thoughts and disagreements in a respectable manner.

      I believe the entire Trojan community can learn from Melissa’s and Drew’s comments. There is nothing wrong with disagreement, but a student should not be personally attacked on appearance and other unrelated characteristics for expressing their concerns.

    • Clarification
      Clarification says:

      The theme of “Have a Heart” was not Italian. It was Valentine’s Day. No Italian music was played, and there were desserts from many different cultures served.

    • LOL
      LOL says:

      Obesity is definitely not a significant problem in Italy. Which just further proves that you are have generalized any image you have in your head of an “Italian” to the entire population of that country. AKA you are racist.

    • Christine
      Christine says:

      As philanthropy chair of Gamma Phi Beta, I just want to clarify that there was no theme to our “Have a Heart” philanthropy event. Drew, perhaps if you had stopped by to support our cause, you would have been better informed. The purpose of “all you can eat,” which has been a tradition for this particular philanthropy, was not meant to be associated with “Italy’s problem with obesity” whatsoever. The point of “all you can eat” for $5, was my attempt to get as many people to come to our philanthropy as possible, so we could raise as much money as we can to help support USC Troy Camp and the McPherson Foundation, which is founded by one of our sister’s family. In addition, I chose spaghetti as the meal out of consideration for our chef, who has to cook for 300+ guests and spaghetti is convenient and easy to make. It shocks me that you would even label a candid and genuine philanthropy as “racist” based on your own false assumptions, and then compare it to a fraternity party, calling them “very similar.” Assuming that your party was in fact, “planned with good intent,” it is still widely different from the purpose of a philanthropy.

      • A bold claim
        A bold claim says:

        I don’t think you understood what drew was saying in his paragraph about G Phi’s philanthropy. He was saying that anyone can take any small thing & take it to the extreme & be offended by it. He said that just because you served all you can eat spaghetti someone could have viewed it was a mockery of obesity in Italy. Drew prefaces that he wouldn’t attempt to make that argument because it would be so far-fetched & said he was just using it as an example.

    • Jon
      Jon says:

      Those “thrift store” parties sound pretty tasteless as well. Or are they just satire to highlight the plight of the poor?

  28. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    Interesting that the description on the facebook event has since been changed. CLEARLY there were racist remarks.

  29. MR. Right.
    MR. Right. says:

    Hello everyone,

    Melissa Morales, I am Mexican. 100% Mexican. And I am liberal…I grew up in San Francisco, the liberal capital of the world. I saw the party on facebook and thought it seemed hilarious. Obviously……OBVIOUSLY…….I doubt people in the phi kappa phi fraternity are racist. Grow a goddamn brain. This phi-esta was not meant to be racist but rather to be fun…..

    I’m sure they all despise you now, and for good reason…..I bet their party is seriously going to be messed up now.


    An admirer

    • hi mr WRONG
      hi mr WRONG says:

      OBVIOUSLY, obviously someone is racist… “border patrol, pickpockets, those kids selling you chicle gum, [and] Montezuma’s Revenge.” You’re right there party is going to to be seriously messed up now.

  30. Annie
    Annie says:

    To Cole:

    Where do you get off on attacking a girl about her appearance!? Her appearance has nothing to do with this article and is not a relevant critique. Next time you write a blatantly slanderous comment please refrain from being a asshole and write something actually worth reading. You go to USC, use that brain of yours.

  31. to the brother of pi kappa phi and bill
    to the brother of pi kappa phi and bill says:

    Guys. You aren’t helping your case. The mature and responsible thing to do would be to stop being defensive and reactionary and to own up to your error. Clearly the party theme was offensive enough to someone that she decided to write about it. I can only imagine how many others thought the same exact thing but held their tongue.

    Cole, you can go shave your back now.

  32. Bill
    Bill says:

    As a Mexican-American brother of this fraternity, it is incredible to see this blown so out of proportion. To say that a satirical poke at sombreros and accents is offensive means you don’t have any sense of humor. The party description was meant as an obvious satirization of innocuous elements of Mexican culture and to take offense to it is gross political-correctism. I agree with you that the mention of deportation certainly crossed a line and that’s why it was promptly removed from the description. Otherwise, the rest was just harmless fun that a member of any culture should be able to poke at itself.

  33. A Brother of Pi Kappa Phi
    A Brother of Pi Kappa Phi says:

    This party is not a “racist rager.” The thing that makes this country (and this city) great is diversity. Diversity means understanding and celebrating various cultures that are different than your own and accepting that they are equal and that no individual is better or worse because of their ethnic, religious, social, gender, or sexual identity. The men of this fraternity are celebrating Mexican culture and diversity by paying homage and attempting to corporate various aspects of it into a themed party. How can a party be themed if it doesn’t include anything characteristic of that which it is trying to mimic? Take your attempts to make a story out of nothing elsewhere.

    • A Brother of a Clue
      A Brother of a Clue says:

      How is this a celebration of diversity and culture? You cannot seriously believe that you guys are throwing this party (at which a great majority of you will get inevitably drunk and uncontrollable) in search of a greater understanding of Mexican culture. There are many Hispanic and specifically Mexican groups on campus that does just that with guest speakers and whole-hearted discussions. I am Asian-American, and I tend not to mind too much when individuals like you make cursory Asian jokes and think it’s actually funny or clever, but I did get offended by the Duke incident, especially knowing they were an aggregate of intelligent(?) university students. You might not think so because you are desensitized to it or because you are not of a race constantly made quips at, but that doesn’t mean we’re all like you. What do you want us to do, just “lighten up” and apologize for not being born white? I hope you find your brain in Oz… or at least at your “Mexican Phi-esta”.

      • A bold claim
        A bold claim says:

        no one said they picked fiesta theme to celebrate a culture. It’s just an easy theme because its common & easy for everyone to dress up for.

        I’m Mexican( ‘a race constantly made quips at’ )& i dont take offense to jokes. Example: I think Carlos Mencia is funny even though he jokes about Hispanic stereotypes. Chris Rock sells out to black crowds as well. Many people do not take offense to cultural jokes.

        I think our difference is that I try to see the best in people’s intentions & you see the worst.
        I don’t think their was ill-will towards anyone in the party description & anyone who thinks there was anything but some cliche stereotypical jokes you’d find on comedy central or your local stand up should work on being more light hearted. You may enjoy yourself more when you dont think people are attacking you.

  34. Josephine
    Josephine says:

    Hi Melissa

    I put in a comment earlier… hopefully this isn’t a repeat, don’t wanna spam.
    You’re so right that people should be offended by racism.
    Great letter.
    The hater comments were sadly very predictable.

    Fight on! :)

    Josephine Lim
    Senior, Linguistics and Spanish

  35. Ridiculous
    Ridiculous says:

    This is ridiculous that you would scrutinize this fraternity like that. Just because a party is Mexican themed does not make it racist. You yourself are putting it in that light. Way to make a fraternity look bad by making all these ridiculous accusations. And yes, I don’t understand why you are saying this because it simply makes no sense

  36. Mr. Deal with it.
    Mr. Deal with it. says:

    I’m pretty sure you’re taking the issue a little too much to heart. I’m not sure these people actually think less of Mexican or Latino people in general, I think they’re just poking fun at stereotypes. If it was openly a party about racial superiority or clear ultra nationalism or something, I would be a little concerned. But from all accounts I hear it’s not….

  37. John
    John says:

    This letter is satire, right? Like no one in their right mind would take offense to a country themed party with a few “racist” comments that are obviously meant to be over the top and provoke a response, right? What’s next, ban St Patrick’s Day parties because they perpetuates Irish stereotypes?

    • Sam
      Sam says:

      Actually, not really John. Like one of the members of the fraternity itself said, there was a line crossed. Border patrol isn’t evoked for people in Mexico. The pickpockets and [poor] kids selling you gum is preceded by “what not to expect.” You know, as if that’s what these Pi Kappa guys consider a trip to Mexico like. Which obviously suggests these guys don’t need to party, they need to read a book.

      “Comments meant to..provoke a response”? Oh, you mean like words?

      And with your use of analogy we could also say, “why let men join fraternities, it just perpetuates the stereotype of the dull, druggie, tasteless male.”

      Which oh goodness, we certainly know is not true.

      Though let’s have THAT theme party. <–(That's satire.)

      I'm kidding. Of course that would be in bad taste. And probably a little boring in my opinion.

Comments are closed.