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Fairfield University investigating students who hosted and attended racially-charged ‘ghetto party’

FAIRFIELD — School officials at Fairfield University are investigating after a racially charged party was reported over the weekend.

On Saturday evening, a so-called “ghetto party” was hosted at an off-campus house on the beach with an estimated 45-50 people in attendance.

Fairfield University’s dean of students is currently spearheading an investigation into the culturally-insensitive theme party.

Vice President of Communications Jennifer Anderson said the school is reaching out to students who hosted and attended the party.

Even though the party was off-campus, Anderson said that students always have to adhere to the university’s Code of Conduct. She also said the university is planning on hosting a campus-wide event to speak about inclusion and tolerance.

Vice President of Student Life Tom Pellegrino said students involved may face disciplinary action for discrimination, as well as disorderly and disruptive conduct.

Pellegrino said he was personally “disturbed and disappointed” to hear about the party.

In response, Fairfield University is taking three immediate corrective steps:

  • The Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs is extending its hours
  • The student government convened on Monday night for an emergency meeting
  • Faculty members are planning panel discussions and meetings with students.

Pellegrino said that the party goes against the school’s key Jesuit tenet of “men and women for others.”

“You have students engaging in behavior that is insensitive and harmful to others in the community,” said Pellegrino. “So, it is antithetical to what we say we stand for as a Jesuit school.”

Fairfield University junior Iman Jebara said she was “appalled” when she heard about the party. She said some of her friends chose to attend.

“They were wearing wife beaters,” said Jebara. “One girl shoved a ball in her shirt and the Snapchat caption was ‘Guess who the daddy is?'”

Jebara said she has seen racism on campus before. “The fact that there was a party that was completely racist, it’s disgusting. I don’t want to associate with that as part of our campus.”

She added that most, not all, students are upset about what happened. “Some people are very upset about it. And a lot of people are demanding action. But there are other people who are joking.”

One Fairfield University student wrote a now-deleted Facebook post offering a mock-apology for the hot dog costume he wore to the party. The student wrote, in part, “I now understand that pretending to be a hot dog is an extremely degrading action to your mechanically separated poultry insides.” He also mock-apologized to “Mr. Oscar Meyer.”

Another Fairfield student posted on Facebook: “I am offended that the ghetto party was turned into a race issue. I know plenty of ghetto white people. #whitelivesmatter, #ghetto&proud”

Here is the university’s statement:

Fairfield University has learned that over the weekend, students who currently live off-campus allegedly hosted a culturally insensitive party at one of the residences. University administration is working with students and diversity officers to investigate the incident.

Fairfield University is explicitly committed as a Jesuit and Catholic university to a culture that embraces and celebrates diversity, and we actively encourage conversations and support programs that deepen our students’ cultural sensitivity, while also impressing upon them that they are expected to be exemplary in their dealings with one another, and with everyone in the community. We expect that our students, faculty and staff maintain the highest level of respect for one another. We will be investigating this matter immediately, and will take appropriate actions as soon as the facts have been determined.

Since its founding, Fairfield University has been committed to an inclusive, welcoming community that represents the diverse cultures that our students come from and where they will live. Fairfield sponsors many different cultural and affinity programs and clubs that strive to increase communication and collaboration among cultural and identity-based student organizations.  We offer a number of clubs and organizations that promote diversity, like the Racial Justice Social Justice (RJSJ) Student Group, Ally Network and such academic offerings as the new Black Lives Matter course, launched in Spring 2016.

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