Penn State Students March For Latino Issues After Racist Party

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(CNN) — Just two weeks after Chi Omega‘s controversial party photo surfaced on Facebook, students at Penn State are planning a silent march today, hoping to increase Latino recruitment and retention.

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The sorority members celebrated Halloween with a Mexican-themed party wearing sombreros and ponchos and pasted fake mustaches on their faces. They held signs that said: “Will mow lawn for weed + beer.” Another sign said: “I don’t cut grass. I smoke it.”

The university president, the president of the board of trustees, and other officials expressed deep disappointment and Chi Omega put its Penn State chapter on probation.

Members of the Latino community were outraged by the photo with comments like this one from Liz Martinez on Twitter: “So many frats and sororities think it’s ok to perpetuate stereotypes. It isn’t.”

March organizer Manuel Figueroa said the march is not being organized in response to the Chi Omega photo.

“The incident definitely served as a catalyst for all this but it’s not the reason we are doing it,” said Figueroa. “There are grievances to a larger issue that we believe the university should take up.”

The Mexican American Student Association (MASA) will not be participating in the march and instead plans to work with Penn State President Rodney Erickson and university officials to bring awareness and change to the campus environment.

The organization would rather “not make this issue a larger one,” said Roberto Hernandez, president of the Mexican student group. “We are hoping to expand the Latino Studies program into a department. We are working with faculty on that.”

In a statement, MASA said: “We … urge the university to reassert its commitment to ethnic and racial diversity. We hope that the university exercises its stated commitment to diversity. We look forward to working with the campus community in reaching these goals.”

Students who are marching plan to peacefully walk through the campus in a silent, single-line manner.

Hispanic students make up 5 percent of the 45,351 undergraduate and graduate population on campus, according to the fall 2012 enrollment data.

Figueroa said they expect at least 50 students to participate.

Erickson commended the student movement to combat the issue, reported the the Daily Collegian.

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