student protest racism

Over 100 students marched to the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house in order to raise awareness against racism to University officials and students last Thursday, February 12, 2015.

Phi Gamma Delta, better known as FIJI, held a “Western-Themed” party on Saturday, February 7, 2015. Supposedly people who went to the party thought the theme was “Border-Patrol” and dressed accordingly. Partygoers wore ponchos, sombreros, and border patrol outfits.

“They were making fun of the fact that people have crossed borders for a better life,” said Philip Olalo, third year international relations student, “they were making fun of the fact that individuals leave their family and friends behind in order to seek jobs in this country.”

UT Latinos organized the United Against Racism March to show UT’s administration how upset they are that events like FIJI’s party continue to happen.

Before the march to the FIJI house, members of the UT community rallied in front of the Cesar Chavez statue. Amber Magee, third year biology student, from the Leadership and Ethics Institute roused the crowd, “So if you tell me that it was just a joke, just a party I am going to tell you the fact that you are so privileged that you don’t recognize the problem with that is your issue not mine.”

The group walked past the FAC building to Whitis Avenue and then onto West 27th Street to the FIJI house. UTPD had Whitis closed to thru traffic for the event. As the group marched they chanted, “when our culture is under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!”

Some spectators gathered to watch the procession including a man who disagreed with the protest shouting, “You don’t deserve it!” when the group asked for respect.

While the FIJI party was the main cause of the march, many students and faculty say that racism is an ongoing issue they have to deal with. “…I’m a Latino student who is demanding a safe space at UT where my culture can be respected,” said Andi Clark, junior Latin American studies major. She said she has suffered micro-aggressions in the past.

The group wants to make sure the University realizes their issues with events like FIJI’s party. Nadia Flores, second year undeclared major, said, “This isn’t the first time a situation like this has happened…we have to hold the school accountable for letting this happen more than once.” Andi Clark added, “This party is just one example of the many.”

Some feel that the University lets these problems slide despite their obvious issues. “The University doesn’t do anything…unless we bring pressure,” said Carlos Salamanca, first year Latin American studies.

UT Latinos and other groups are working with both FIJI and the University to bring an end to racism. They plan to have programs that explain to members how to combat racism, not spread it. The protest ended with, “Si se puede,” (yes, it is possible) meaning that the group is hopeful they can reach their goal.