There’s no doubt that the Hoos have become a bit too familiar with controversy over the past few years, and there is an overwhelming consensus among students and administration alike to avoid it. So when the brilliant members of Delta Psi Fraternity aka “The Hall” decided to actively invite controversy onto grounds this past Thursday by hosting a “Convicts and Hot Chicks” themed date function, the backlash was unsurprising.
Fraternity members showed up to their Mad Bowl mansion clad in orange jumpsuits, bandanas, and chains, accompanied by their underdressed dates who sported similar convict mock-ups or police officer costumes. The well-coordinated parody drew heavy and immediate criticism, but none the more so than from the twenty-some student protestors who arrived between 10:30 and 11:30 pm. Protestors shouted over the walls and hedges of the Madison Avenue property, condemning the fraternity scions’ mockery of mass incarceration and its ties to wage gap and race relations.
The fraternity made a call to Inter-Fraternity Council President Henry Crochiere for advice.
Together, The Hall and Crochiere decided to cancel the date function and all further Delta Psi events that weekend. The police were called to disperse the protestors on the grounds of trespassing.
In the aftermath the following day, Crochiere met with Delta Psi President Thomas Green to discuss the event. Crochiere went on to say, “the Inter-Fraternity Council acknowledges that the theme, while not overtly reprehensible, is potentially offensive to members of the community. As a result, we thought it was best to end the party and other Delta Psi events planned for the weekend in order to reevaluate the situation.”
Since then, students have taken to social media to debate what has become yet another polarizing topic on grounds. Some praised the protestors for “standing strong for marginalized communities” in a particularly heated Facebook post by UVa Students United while opposing students have denounced the uproar as trivial and petty.
No one expects fraternities and their events to be the hubs of empathy or social awareness, but is it too much to ask the members of our community not to fan the flames of controversy while our University is in the national spotlight? At worst, the protestors were correct: the legacy of The Hall is one of blissful disregard to the lives of minorities, women, and the impoverished. Understandably, many would not reach that far for a conclusion. Even at best, members of The Hall have demonstrated that they entirely lack the sensitivity and good judgement expected of UVa students, and should be ashamed to have been the subject of yet another student relations issue at the university. With luck, this incident will stand as a signal to fraternities to avoid similar “creativity” with their next party theme.