ONTD Political

Duke's Kappa Sigma Frat suspended for racist Asian-themed party

8:56 pm - 02/06/2013

DURHAM — A Duke University fraternity has been suspended from its national affiliation after complaints about a themed party last week that featured Asian stereotypes.

About 200 Duke students gathered Wednesday to protest the Kappa Sigma party, which was held Friday. The party originally was called “Asia Prime” in social media posts that featured references to drinking sake and an exaggerated, stereotypical language, such as saying “Herro” instead of “Hello.”

In response to student complaints, the fraternity changed the party theme to “International Relations” two days before the event. Still, photos from the party showed mostly white students wearing sumo wrestler costumes and chopsticks in their hair.

That was enough to inspire Duke senior Ting-Ting Zhou, president of the Asian Students Association, to help organize Wednesday’s protest.

“My parents gave up everything they had in China to come here to give me a better life: their language, their culture, their educational recognition, their careers,” Zhou said. Other students “can pretend to be Asian for this one night, for this one party, but I have to be Asian my whole life. It trivializes me! It makes me feel like less than a human being.”The national Kappa Sigma Fraternity suspended the Duke fraternity’s charter Wednesday pending an investigation, which should be finished in about two weeks, said Mic Wilson, national executive director. The Duke chapter must cease all operations and activities until the investigation is complete, Wilson said. Then, he added, the national board of directors will decide whether action needs to be taken.

“We certainly do not condone” the party, Wilson said. “Kappa Sigma is a very diverse organization, and we celebrate that. We have members from every walk of life, every culture, and we have a lot of brothers in our fraternity who are Asian-American.”

‘A persistent battle’

Larry Moneta, Duke’s vice president of student affairs, said the university is investigating the party but that it does not appear that the fraternity violated any specific university policy.

But that doesn’t mean the fraternity’s actions were acceptable, Moneta said.

“(We) continue to advise them and turn this as much as we can into a learning opportunity,” Moneta said. “This is a persistent battle against ignorance that students arrive with, that students develop, and that is reinforced in various cultural conditions on and off the campus. This is nothing unique to Duke.

At Wednesday’s protest on the lawn in front of Duke Chapel, students stood around a sign several feet high that bore the message “Race is not a party.”

A common counterargument we get is, ‘OK, if it had been an ‘America’ party, which people do hold, then it would be OK,’ ” said Xiaohan Cai, a junior public policy major who participated in the protest. “But that’s not a marginalized group, so the context is very important.”

According to Duke’s website, 22 percent of the undergraduate population was Asian-American in 2008, the last year statistics were available.

This isn’t the first time Duke’s Kappa Sigmas have been in trouble. In the early 2000s, the chapter, affiliated with the national fraternity since 1873, lost its charter because of alcohol and social violations, Wilson said. The fraternity was only re-chartered, and thus allowed back onto Duke’s campus, in April 2011.

‘Pilgrims and Indians’

Kappa Sigma isn’t the first party to be accused of celebrating stereotypes at Duke. In November 2011, the university’s chapter of Pi Kappa Phi drew criticism for throwing a “Pilgrims and Indians” party, in which the invitations encouraged students to find their inner “hot natives” or “Pocahotness.”

Zhou said she’s seen a few parties with themes such as “Black Entertainment Television vs. Country Music Television” since she’s been a student.

“The Pocahotness party was so recent, … and nothing was done,” Zhou said. “They know this is wrong, but they still do it. They also know that nothing will happen. They know that in another month, this will all blow over.”


LOLOLOL @ the counterargument if Asians had an America party. They forget some of these Asian students ARE American.
layweed 7th-Feb-2013 12:14 pm (UTC)
Still not sure what frats are good for.
angelofdeath275 7th-Feb-2013 12:59 pm (UTC)
I don't get it either.
teacoat 7th-Feb-2013 01:09 pm (UTC)
Keeping white men in power.
girly123 7th-Feb-2013 03:46 pm (UTC)
Not all frats are white.
maladaptive 7th-Feb-2013 01:37 pm (UTC)
Getting jobs and maintaining the Greek system.
dearmisterecho 7th-Feb-2013 01:49 pm (UTC)
me either. I know some do actual good charity work, but most of the time it's a way to flaunt your privilege and get bullshit, unfair networking opportunities after Uni.

crooked_halo 8th-Feb-2013 12:03 am (UTC)
Enabling and perpetuating rape culture.

This was my thought exactly.
maynardsong 7th-Feb-2013 03:33 pm (UTC)
I've had fun nights at their parties, and if a brother invites you to a date function you get to be fancy. I could do without the various -isms tho
girly123 7th-Feb-2013 03:47 pm (UTC)
There are some that are worthwhile; like, it's a huge cultural thing with Black people, at least, to be associated with some of the historically black sororities and fraternities. I never got the appeal, personally, but I can appreciate their importance from afar.

The frats like the one being talked about in this article, though...yeah, no.
roseofjuly 8th-Feb-2013 07:29 am (UTC)
I was going to say the same thing. Culturally, NPHC fraternities and sororities are a bit different. I'm not saying that they don't have their problems - they have HUGE issues with hazing - but a lot of the NPHC orgs were initially founded to provide service to their immediate communities and give Black students at elite universities a place to socialize and commiserate with other Black students in an environment in which they are the minority.

I wanted to join one in college, but I didn't want to go through the bullshit involved on the college level.

Edited at 2013-02-08 07:30 am (UTC)
doverz 7th-Feb-2013 04:00 pm (UTC)
Frats like this, I have no idea either. But I was in a co-ed chemistry fraternity so it was a lot more focused on the professional aspects than the social aspects.
mutive 7th-Feb-2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
Agreed. A lot of professional fraternities/sororities are pretty good for educating members about opportunities in their fields, bringing in guest speakers, networking, etc.
wrestlingdog 7th-Feb-2013 10:46 pm (UTC)
layweed 7th-Feb-2013 10:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I really meant the social greek fraternities, not things like professional societies/fraternities.
skellington1 7th-Feb-2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
MTE. Very happy to have gone to a uni without 'em.
moonshaz 8th-Feb-2013 02:03 am (UTC)
I went to a uni that had frats and sororities, but only a minority of students were involved with them. This was a state university attended by a lot of people with limited budgets, so most of the student body couldn't have afforded to pledge one of those organizations, even if we had wanted to. A lot of people viewed the Greek system as a bunch of clubs for stuck up snobs with rich parents. Which wasn't fair, of course--but that was the image they had at my school.
xo_bumblebee 7th-Feb-2013 08:55 pm (UTC)
I was in a sorority and I quit because it was just politics and cliques. If I could redo college I wouldn't have ever joined to begin with.

The professional Greek Letter societies I was in were worthwhile though.
idemandjustice 7th-Feb-2013 09:58 pm (UTC)
No idea.
rainbow_fish 8th-Feb-2013 01:43 am (UTC)
I was greek in college and loved it :)

But our system wasn't ridiculous and crazy like these huge uni systems.
coraki 8th-Feb-2013 03:30 am (UTC)
My bf in uni was part of the Aviation Frat., he didn't even bother learning the greek alphabet, since I guess they were so desperate for members.

The sororities that didn't have a major connected to them, only wanted pretty girls for their house. I was quite happy to do without them.
ennifer_jay 8th-Feb-2013 04:11 am (UTC)
at my undergrad university, my friends and I, in coversation, distinguished the frats and sorors: white frat/white soror and BLGC (black & latino greek council) frats/sorors

I fully support BLGC greek life. They have some really amazing values imo. The white social ones, otoh....

I'm in Omicron Delta Kappa and Sigma Tau Delta (professional ones) but neither of them really did anything on my campus outside of the joining ceremony, so...

Edited at 2013-02-08 04:12 am (UTC)
toxic_glory 8th-Feb-2013 05:35 am (UTC)
I definitely understand the point of minority frats/srats

in fact, I'm pretty okay with sororities in general. I don't think the culture around them is nearly as toxic as frat culture.

but yeah. most fraternities seem to do more harm than good.
illusivevenstar 9th-Feb-2013 06:09 am (UTC)
and here come the people defending their ~~frats~~

rolling my eyes.

Edited at 2013-02-09 06:10 am (UTC)
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