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Sorority’s Racist Party Photo Stirs Outcry

Members of the Chi Omega sorority at Penn State

A Penn State sorority has become the focus of an investigation after a racist Mexican-themed party picture was posted to the Web, according to the independent Penn State blog, Onward State.

The picture, said to be taken around Halloween, shows the women dressed in sombreros and mustaches. Some of the women held signs that read “Will mow lawn for weed + beer” and “I don’t cut grass I smoke it.”

The photo was posted on Tumblr and Facebook, where Onward State was able to identify the women tagged in the photo as members of the Chi Omega sorority on campus.

Jessica Riccardi, the president of the Nu Gamma chapter of Chi Omega, confirmed to the student publication the Daily Collegian that the sorority is under investigation. Riccardi also issued an apology.

“Our chapter of Chi Omega sincerely apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes. The picture in question does not support any of Chi Omega’s values or reflect what the organization aspires to be.”

The Penn State Panhellenic Council executive board released a statement to the Daily Collegian:
“We are addressing the situation immediately with the members of the chapter in conjunction with their national headquarters.”

“This photo has been brought to our attention, and we have looked into the issue,” Lisa Powers, director of public information at Penn State, said in a statement to Yahoo News.

“The students in the photo are within their First Amendment rights to express themselves in this way,” Powers said. “Although we are certainly appalled that they would display this level of insensitivity and lack of judgment.”

Furthermore, Powers added, “These costumes and this group do not represent fraternity and sorority life at Penn State, nor the 95,000 students who attend our university. The Chi Omega sorority sisters have expressed deep remorse over this incident.”

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