Fairfield College in Connecticut is under investigation for a “ghetto party” thrown by a number of students at an off-campus location at a beach. On Saturday night, white college students showed up at a house on the beach, where a number of the school’s lacrosse players live, sporting wife beater t-shirts, baggy pants around their knees and gold chains. Some had their hair in fake cornrows. Others had temporary gang tattoos and wore “blackface” makeup. The girls had fake baby bumps and a number of the party attendees were wandering around with 40-ounce beers stuffed in paper bags.
Reports USA Today on Feb. 23: “The private, Jesuit and Catholic school of about 5,100 is responding to the gathering that some news outlets dubbed a ‘ghetto-themed party.’ The Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs will hold extended evening hours to discuss the incident with students.”
The campus, located approximately 60 miles northeast of NYC, said the “racially insensitive party” is being investigated by school officials, and confirmed that a student forum was held Monday night to discuss the issue.
“The fact that there was even an idea to dress as ‘ghetto’ is an intrinsically perverted issue,” Fairfield junior Joe Harding told the Connecticut Post. “When a party has a theme, the participants are expected to wear a costume. In this case, the partygoers chose to wear clothing and accessories that portrayed their conceptualizations of what it means to be ghetto. Ghetto is not a term of endearment.”
Sophomore Ammol Tabassum said the theme is anathema to Jesuit values. “It is truly disappointing to see my fellow students behave in such a manner,” she said.
Fairfield University president Jeffrey von Arx said the party “perpetuated racial stereotypes that have no place in our community and only serve to offend and devalue people.”
Arx authored an email to the university community, writing in part: “Both within and outside the classroom, we have spoken to many of our students, and heard the personal accounts for how this incident has impacted them. Their concerns go beyond the incident this weekend. To some within our community, this incident is symptomatic of conditions on campus that inhibit our many positive efforts to build a more inclusive, respectful and safer community.
“We will be investigating this matter immediately, and will take appropriate actions as soon as the facts have been determined,” Arx said.
According to the Washington Post, African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American students make up about 15 percent of the undergraduate population at Fairfield College.
Fairfield student Iman Jebara said she was “appalled” at the ghetto party. “They were wearing wife beaters,” she said. “One girl shoved a ball in her shirt and the Snapchat caption was ‘Guess who the daddy is?’”
While many are taking the ghetto-themed party seriously, others are just laughing it off. “It’s like Halloween, where I’m dressed as a gangster,” said student Brian Mason. “Nobody said anything then.”
“Justin Bieber dressed liked that for so long while he was out singing ‘Baby, baby, oh,’” Jacqueline-Ann Willsey told Fox5. “It’s not necessarily a socio-economic thing, I think it’s just a style.”
And student Dan Radel, who showed up in a rented hot dog outfit, posted a phony apology message on Fairfield’s Facebook page, writing: “In light of the recent backlash towards the ‘ghetto party’ I would like to take this time to apologize for my attire last night. I wore a hot dog costume to this party and now feel that my actions have caused emotional harm to all of the hot dog community.”
Rampant racism, or not a big deal? Sound off below: What are your thoughts on Fairfield’s ghetto party?