Baylor students stage protest over fraternity's "Mexican" themed party

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) More than 200 Baylor students gathered Monday to call for more diverse and inclusive policies on campus after the Kappa Sigma fraternity threw a “Mexican” themed party Saturday night.

(Photo by Ke'Sha Lopez)

"Dear Baylor, love thy neighbor," the students shouted as they protested on the university's Fountain Mall.

The students are calling for sanctions against the fraternity, a formal apology, mandatory cultural competency education for students and faculty, recruitment of more diverse faculty and staff and a bilingual staff in student financial aid and assistance.

The students say they hope their message reaches the Baylor Board of Regents and campus administrators.

Baylor says it's investigating the incident, but the national fraternity said it "has suspended the operations of the chapter, while we conduct an investigation in cooperation with the university."

"The allegations are inconsistent with the values of Kappa Sigma and, upon the completion of the investigation, the fraternity will address the findings in an appropriate manner," the statement said.

Some of those who attended the party Saturday reported seeing students dressed in ponchos, sombreros, construction outfits, and maid’s uniforms.

"It's completely disrespectful to a lot of Latinos and Mexicans. There's no place for that. We are a Christian university and we’re supposed to love and respect one another,” Baylor student Damian Moncada said.

Multicultural fraternity Beta Kappa Gamma President Abdullah Ghali said he heard about the off-campus party.

"There was a lot of stereotype targeting happening at the party and also mentioning of a chant saying 'Build that wall, build that wall,'” he said.

Damian Moncada and Denise Lopez organized a meeting Sunday evening for students to express their concern and discuss ways the student body can promote unity against racial stereotypes.

"We're basically giving a platform for students who went to the event or students who it affected to have that conversation." Moncada said.

"Whenever you have people misrepresenting a culture, Mexicans don't dress like that, they don't dress like that.”

Students spoke up about how the party’s theme was offensive.

Ghali said this behavior is not representative of all students’ beliefs.

"As the president of a Greek organization, what I'd like to advocate is that this doesn't represent the Greek community," Ghali said.

Moncada said the students are working with administrators on an action plan to educate other students on diversity and intercultural issues.

“Baylor culture doesn’t always align with student culture, a lot of times they’re completely different. There needs to be that consistency between administration developing policies and students respecting policies and respecting each other above all,” Moncada said.

Administrators said they are aware of the incident, and they are investigating.

Baylor Vice President Kevin Jackson released this statement on Sunday:

The University has been made aware of a racially insensitive event that occurred last night off campus. The reported behavior is deeply concerning and does not in any way reflect Baylor’s institutional values. University officials are presently investigating the incident and gathering additional information. Baylor is committed to a Christian mission that actively supports a caring and diverse campus community, and we do not tolerate racism of any kind on our campus. When any incident that does not align with our faith and mission is brought to our attention, it is thoroughly investigated by the University, and appropriate action is taken. Baylor is wholeheartedly steadfast in our commitment to our mission and to enriching the racial and ethnic fabric of our University. We accomplish this by celebrating and strengthening inclusiveness, understanding and acceptance of all members of the Baylor family regardless of race or ethnicity.