Sorority posts photos offensive to Latinos

Dec. 5, 2012 at 7:45 PM
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa., Dec. 5 (UPI) -- A Penn State sorority spokeswoman has apologized for her group's Internet photos and messages that provoked cries of racism.

The members of Chi Omega appeared in photos holding placards with messages such as "I don't mow grass, I smoke it" and "Will work for weed" while wearing serapes, sombreros and fake mustaches, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Wednesday.

Chi Omega's Penn State chapter president offered up an apology.

"The Nu Gamma Chapter of Chi Omega sincerely apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes," Jessica Riccardi, chapter president, said Tuesday. "The pictures in question do not support any of Chi Omega's values, nor do they reflect what our organization aspires to be."

Whitney Heckathorne, communications director for the fraternity's national chapter in Memphis, said the group would work on educating the Penn State chapter "particularly regarding appropriate sensitivity to others and bystander behavior.'

Jesabel Rivera, president of the Pittsburgh Latin American Cultural Union, said the whole Hispanic community suffers from such stereotypes.

"I think this type of behavior reflects a lack of knowledge, a total ignorance in that community. This is a call for knowledge," said Rivera, who is from Puerto Rico.

She said the university may wish to provide seminars and other programming to further cultural sensitivity.

Lisa Powers, a Penn State spokeswoman, said the students have the right of self-expression under the First Amendment, but the university is "appalled that they would display this level of insensitivity."

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