An “Asian-themed” party thrown by a fraternity has sparked protests at Duke University. The frat party, held off campus Saturday, had people dressed up as Asian stereotypes and an invitation that included “Chank You” and other language to represent broken English.
The Duke frat party thrown by Kappa Sigma was met with immediate backlash, reports The Chronicle, Duke’s student-run newspaper. Duke seniors Ashley Tsai, Tong Xiang and Ting-Ting Zhou helped lead the protest.
A Facebook page created by the Asian Student Association showed pictures of people dressing up as geishas or sumo wrestlers and the invitation to the Duke frat party including insensitive language, reminiscent of how North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il was parodied in “Team America.”
The theme party was not an isolated incident, Tsai said. “This is a consistent thing happening. We want serious things to be done by the student body and the university so that this never happens again,” she told The Chronicle.
The Facebook page has plenty of supporters and detractors with some students bringing up a “white trash” party, where students dressed in tank tops or other stereotypical clothing, while the frat party also brings to mind a blackface photo from last year.
The Asian Student Association’s protest over the Duke frat party drew support from other student groups like the Students of the Caribbean Association as well as the Black Students Alliance.
Luke Keohane, Kappa Sigma’s president, issued an apology to The Chronicle: “The Duke community in which we exist is one that we see too often as divided, and while our actions have brought attention to and widened that divide, it is our sincere intention to work to contribute to a united Duke.”
The national organization of the Kappa Sigma fraternity has suspended the Duke chapter as it investigates the party.
The Asian American Alliance also held a protest over the Duke frat party Wednesday afternoon, reports WRAL in Raleigh, N.C. According to the message posted to the Facebook event page for "Race is Not a Party: Rally for an Inclusive Duke" by the Asian American Alliance, “In previous incidents, campus sentiment has devolved to us-against-them mentalities. Tomorrow we won't use our platform to alienate, to provide more fodder for stereotypes about Duke, or to trivialize any person's experience. Instead we will use this opportunity to spread an awareness of why the events of the past week were hurtful and to establish a concrete plan for how our community can move forward from these events.”