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University of Chicago fraternity apologizing for racial insensitivity

Updated: June 2, 2012 5:56PM

A University of Chicago fraternity is apologizing for racial insensitivity after two of its members were seen mowing lawns to Latin music while wearing oversized sombreros.

Roger Deschner confirmed in a May 31 letter sent to the Sun-Times that two frat members participated in an “offensive act involving a hurtful ethnic stereotype.”

“We sincerely apologize to anyone who had to witness this event or who was offended by hearing about it,” he wrote as president of the fraternity’s Chicago chapter. “The incident on May 8th is exceptionally embarrassing to us and contradictory to our values.

“Our organization has taken steps internally to educate and train our members to ensure that no incident of this kind happens again.”

Deschner would not comment on specific details, other than to deny that the students were pledging as initially reported. He could not be reached Saturday.

As the Sun-Times first reported, people at the Alpha Delta Phi house, 5747 S. University, were seen on May 8 mowing the lawn outside while wearing “oversized sombreros” as a stereo played Latin music, the students told the Chicago Maroon student newspaper.

On May 21, another school frat, Delta Upsilon, 5714 S. Woodlawn, advertised a planned party called “Conquistadors and Aztec Hoes.” Partiers were encouraged to bring “an unlimited need to conquer, spread disease and enslave natives,” according to the May 25 issue of the Maroon.

On May 26, a Delta Upsilon official apologized to the Sun-Times in an email.

The event title was changed “within an hour of appearing on Facebook,” he said; the event itself was eventually cancelled.

The Dean of Students, Kimberly Goff-Crews, denounced both incidents, saying the institution’s “core values of rigorous and open inquiry is threatened” when students degrade others based on their identity.

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