WACO - The Kappa Sigma Fraternity and Baylor University have both suspended the Baylor Chapter following what the university has referred to as a racially insensitive event which led to a protest Monday.
Roughly 200 Baylor students gathered at the University's Fountain Mall to peacefully protest the Kappa Sigma fraternity's "Mexican"-themed party, which was held on Saturday.
Photos posted on social media appeared to show students in ponchos and sombreros. One student tweeted party-goers dressed as construction workers, and "one guy did brown face." In response, Baylor Student Halley Yzquierdo shared a "strongly worded letter" to University leaders after someone tweeted her and said "party still going, feel free to join the house cleaners."
In a statement Sunday, Baylor Vice President for Student Life Kevin Jackson called the party "deeply concerning" and said administrators were investigating.
"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," Jackson said. "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."
The Hispanic Student Association also condemned the party.
"The act of racial discrimination that occurred off campus [Saturday] evening is completely and blatantly disrespectful, as it is an appropriation and misrepresentation of Mexican heritage," the association wrote in a Facebook post. "Our Latino leaders have developed a course of action plan and will update our Baylor community on its implementation."
Protesters gathered inside the Bill Daniel Student Center Monday, before marching with chants and signs to the Fountain Mall, where roughly 20 speakers shared messages of unity and asked Baylor to promote cultural awareness -- possibly by adding a mandatory program for new students.
Baylor student Monica Luna said "we say we're trying to move on and build stronger ties but in reality we're only breaking them by condoning this or saying it's ok by brushing it off, pushing it off to the side."
"I think we need to really respond to this and say you know what, this is it," Luna said. "This is the time to really change and do something about it."
Baylor Student Johanna Lippert said there is a culture change that needs to happen at Baylor.
"But I think this just shows the shaky place we're in growing as a university," she said.
The roughly 90 minute demonstration ended with a prayer early Monday afternoon, as students locked arms together.
Kappa Sigma released the following statement:
“The Kappa Sigma Fraternity has learned of a social event that occurred with our Lambda-Tau Chapter at Baylor University at an off campus location on Saturday evening. Kappa Sigma 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 completion of the investigation, the Fraternity will address the findings in an appropriate manner.”
Baylor University released the following statement:
"Baylor University has enacted an interim suspension of Kappa Sigma’s chapter operations pending the completion of a formal inquiry involving the organization and a culturally insensitive event that took place off-campus on the night of April 29, 2017. This action was taken with the support of Kappa Sigma’s national organization.The suspension encompasses all fraternal activities including, but not limited to, meetings, social events, intramurals and new member education. This temporary suspension will be in place until the Department of Student Activities is able to acknowledge full completion of the incident inquiry."
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