By Andrew Khouri
6:10 PM EST, December 6, 2012
A photograph of Penn State sorority members donning sombreros and ponchos has landed the school’s Chi Omega chapter on probation.
In the picture, some of the women have fake mustaches festooned to their lips, and one woman is holding a sign that reads: “Will mow lawn for weed + beer.”
"I am disappointed in the choices made by our Nu Gamma Chapter members and we regret any pain caused," Chi Omega's national president, Letitia Fulkerson, said in a statement. "We are taking this situation very seriously. Chi Omega does not condone behavior that violates our organization's policy on human dignity."
Chi Omega's national staff is working with Penn State and the school's Panhellenic Council to establish "corrective educational directives for the chapter," the national group said in a statement. Chi Omega's governing council placed the Penn State chapter on probation effective Monday, the news release said.
According to Onward State, an independent Penn State blog, the picture was apparently taken at "a Mexican fiesta-themed social around Halloween."
In an open letter to the campus community, school officials wrote that the party was inconsistent with the university’s values. The actions display "either a lack of awareness about the human condition and human
sensitivities or, worse yet, disdain for the thoughts, feelings, histories and experiences of others," the letter says.
Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in an email to the Los Angeles Times that the school is having "discussions with the sorority and its members, as well as with student leaders and our Latino population."
In an email to the Times, Jessica Riccardi, the president of Penn State’s Chi Omega chapter, declined to comment. But she told the Daily Collegian that her chapter "apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes."
Similar instances of racially tinged parties have occurred across the nation. In Anaheim this year, Canyon Hills High School’s "Seniores and Senoritas" day for graduating seniors drew condemnation when an internal investigation found that students had dressed up as gang members and gardeners.