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'Compton Cookout' frat party harks back to 'Ugly Woman' contest

A party involving UC San Diego fraternity members that mocked black culture has caused outrage among some students and faculty, a number of whom are calling for the fraternity to be punished.

California Watch, UC San Diego, frat party

An invitation to the "Compton Cookout" ridiculed Black History Month and urged participants to embrace racial stereotypes, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.

Guys were supposed to wear chains, don cheap clothes and speak loudly. Girls were supposed to dress like "ghetto chicks," who "usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes,” the invitation read.

The event apparently involved several members of the Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) fraternity, although the party wasn't an official Pike event.

UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox condemned the party, calling it a "blatant disregard of our campus values."

But despite some demands for the campus to reprimand Pike, officials stopped short of taking any action against the fraternity as yet, the Union-Tribune reports:

'Because it wasn’t a UCSD-sanctioned event, or run by a student organization, it doesn’t appear that there was a technical violation,' said Jeff Gattas, UCSD’s executive director of communications and public affairs. 'At this point, we don’t have a reason to penalize them.'

The university has begun an investigation into the party and officials hope to decide within the next few weeks whether students involved with the event will be disciplined, the Union-Tribune reports.

Adam Kissel of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education pointed out in a tweet that the scenario reminded him of a 1991 case involving a fraternity event at George Mason University in Washington, D.C.

In that case, the Iota Chi chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity held a fundraising event in the cafeteria of the student union. In an event dubbed the "ugly woman" contest, the fraternity members dressed up as ethnic caricatures.

According to court documents, "one of the participants dressed in black face, used pillows to represent breasts and buttocks and wore a black wig with curlers."

The university decided to suspend the fraternity for two years. But a federal judge overturned that decision, ruling that even racist and obnoxious student performances are protected by the First Amendment, the New York Times reported.

The judge, Claude M. Hilton, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, wrote that the skit contained "more than a kernel of expression; therefore, the activity demands First Amendment protection."

The attorney for the students, Victor M. Glasberg of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the university had mishandled a case of inappropriate behavior:

'There is no doubt that the ugly woman contest was inappropriate and offensive,' Mr. Glasberg said. 'Something had to be done about it, but the university did it in a grossly inappropriate manner.'

Filed under: Higher Ed, Daily Report
Tags: UC San Diego


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