In early December, a photo of the Chi Omega sorority chapter at Penn State University surfaced on Facebook. The photo depicted young collegiate women wearing ponchos, sombreros, and fake mustaches as an attempt to mock Mexicans. According to an independent college blog, the photo was originally taken at a Mexican-themed party around Halloween.
The Penn State Pan-Hellenic Council investigated the chapter and members of the sorority expressed extreme remorse for the photo.
Two weeks after the photo surfaced on the web, some Penn State students are pushing to draw more attention to the lack of Latino representation on campus. A silent march has been planned and will be held Thursday to raise awareness and encourage an increase in Latino recruitment and retention at Penn State. According to data gathered by CNN, Hispanics only make up 5% of the current undergraduate and graduate population at the university.
According to students, the rally and the failed photo-op are not related.
“The incident definitely served as a catalyst for all this but it’s not the reason we are doing it,” Manuel Figueroa, the student who organized the march, told CNN. “There are grievances to a larger issue that we believe the university should take up.”
The Mexican American Student Association at Penn State decided that it would not participate in the march because they do not want to broaden the incident into something bigger than they believed it to be. They did, however, in a statement, release their support for increasing diversity on the campus.
“We … urge the university to reassert its commitment to ethnic and racial diversity. We hope that the university exercises its stated commitment to diversity. We look forward to working with the campus community in reaching these goals.”