'Ghetto party' theme leads to university investigation

Students in Fairfield, Connecticut's Fairfield University are expressing concerns over a party that was held Saturday in the school's off-campus housing.

The party theme was described as "ghetto."

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At the party, which WNYW reported was held at a beach house, partygoers allegedly wore baggy clothes, gold chains and fake baby-bumps.

Some students expressed disgust at the party theme but said this is not unusual.

“The fact that there was even an idea to dress as ‘ghetto’ is an intrinsically perverted issue,” John Harding, a Fairfield University junior told the Connecticut Post. "Ghetto is not a term of endearment."

“It is truly disappointing to see my fellow students  behave in such a manner that mocks (another) race,” Anmol Tabassum, a Fairfield University sophomore, said.

"The fact that there was a party that was completely racist is just disgusting," Iman Jebara, a Fairfield junior told WTIC. "I don't want to associate with that as part of our campus."

Jebara said she has seen racism at her school before.

Other students did not think the party was offensive.

“It’s like Halloween. (I) dressed as a gangster (when I was four),” Brian Mason sophomore said. “Nobody said anything then.”

Carolyn Vermont, director of urban initiatives for Connecticut Against Gun Violence, was not surprised by the incident.

"Whether it was insensitivity or a mean-spirited prank, it shows we have a lot of work to do," Vermont said. "It’s symptomatic of an insensitivity to race across the country, not just at Fairfield University."

Of the school's 3,680 undergraduate students, 15 percent are African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American, according to the university website.

Almost 5,000 total students are at the university.

Jennifer Anderson, the university’s vice president of marketing and communications, said students are held to the same code of conduct whether they live on or off campus.

In a statement, Fairfield University President Jeffrey P. von Arx said the party theme "Perpetuated racial stereotypes that have no place in our community and only serve to offend and devalue people."

The president's statement also said that the school's diversity and multicultural affairs office with have extended hours this week, the student association will hold a meeting to plan a student forum, and faculty and administrators will plan an open dialogue for the university community.

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