Penn’s chapter of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity is currently under investigation by its international organization and campus officials for a photo circulated on social media Sunday night. All chapter operations have been suspended for the duration of the investigation.
The image was a Christmas photo of the fraternity brothers taken following their Secret Santa gift exchange. Controversy over the photo stemmed from a dark-skinned blow-up doll in the top left of the photo — seemingly one of the only objects of color in the picture, as most of the men appear to be Caucasian.
A draft of an apology emailed to the UMOJA co-chairs and signed “The Brothers of Phi Delta Theta at the University of Pennsylvania,” said the doll was supposed to be a Beyoncé sex doll, but did not at all resemble the packaging or the pop star once removed, and was a “distasteful” joke. The apology added that “the absence of racial motivation is no justification for this act of poor judgement.”
Later that night, 5B — the five umbrella coalitions for minority organizations on campus — UMOJA, and the Penn Undergraduate Consortium for Women all emailed statements calling for the fraternity to be punished.
In an emailed statement, Associate Executive Vice President of Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity Sean Wagner said an investigation of the chapter will seek to determine how this “misguided decision” was made and determine an appropriate punishment and form of “educational action that will promote reform.”
“We are deeply concerned by this image,” Wagner wrote in the statement. “Phi Delta Theta is a values-based organization and the lack of judgment associated with this image indicates a disconnect from those same values.”
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