"Straight thuggin"' party raises questions at University of Chicago
November 2, 2005 (WLS) -- There is a call for discussions on racial sensitivity at the University of Chicago after a controversial party at a campus dorm last month. Many students feel the party's theme was racially insensitive on a campus where only 4 percent of the undergraduate student body is African-American.
The University of Chicago has come under fire because of a small dorm party consisting of about 20 students that apparently offended a number of minority students on campus because of the party's theme.
The campus party at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park was called "Straight Thuggin'." Students sat around, listened to rap music and dressed and acted as if they were part of the hip-hop culture. There were no African-American students at the party.
"I think it was very insensitive, but there's always been that kind of divide" said Deena Heller, U of C student.
"I was really shocked, in what I would consider to be such a progressive environment, these kids would think it was funny to have a party that would just make fun of these stereotypes," said John Davis, U of C student.
"I don't think that it was meant in a racist way, but I think it was just sort of ignorant in not knowing it would offend people," said Brittany Hamelers, U of C student.
This was one of a series of parties. All of them had a theme based on music and culture of a certain era, such as the early 80's and the early 90's.
But many students expressed concern over the theme of this party because of the way economically disadvantaged members of society were portrayed. Several African-American students said they were offended with how the party seemed to mock a particular race.
The students said they were also offended with pictures from the party showing participants dressed in baggy clothes, wearing sideways baseball caps, exposed underwear, bandanas and other accessories.
"I felt like it was degrading. I felt like it belittled a serious social problem in America and around the world," said Eve Ewing, U of C student.
At this point, the disciplinary action taken by the university is confidential. The school's administration has called for an open meeting next week to discuss the campus atmosphere for minority students.
"This is the kind of activity that can build a racist threat," said Stephen Klass, U of C vice president and dean of students.
One of the organizers of the party e-mailed a letter of apology to students that said the event was not intended to offend anyone, but admitted the organizers did not completely think out the implications of the party.
Some faculty members believe much more needs to be done to welcome minority students on campus. There is also some concern about how the party will effect future campus-community relations.
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