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Phi Delta Theta's Christmas photo, which includes a dark skinned sex doll (upper left), sparked concerns over the fraternity's cultural sensitivity.

Penn’s chapter of Phi Delta Theta is currently on probation after a controversial holiday photo went viral, according to the fraternity’s international organization. The photo, released on Dec. 14, featured several mostly light-skinned members in holiday attire with a black sex doll. Following an investigation, the chapter is barred from participating in social activities until it completes cultural sensitivity and sexual and relationship misconduct education programs. 

“Our investigation determined that a severe lack of judgment, not malicious intent or hateful feelings towards any particular group, was the root of this insensitive act,” Sean Wagner, associate executive vice president of the international organization, wrote in a statement.

He added that the education programs should teach members to “better understand the complexity of all issues surrounding this image,” referring to the holiday photo. The cultural sensitivity training will be held in collaboration with other unspecified campus organizations according to the statement. Chapter members will also participate in the national programs, “Taking a Stand,” and “Courageous Leadership,” focused on recognizing and preventing sexual assault. 

The chapter will be required to pay for all educational programming until the end of the probation.

“Taking a Stand” — an educational program in compliance with the Violence Against Women Act — is part of the Fraternal Health & Safety Initiative. The program includes training on how to understand consent, how to intervene as a bystander, legal ramifications of sexual assault and an interactive exercise on how rhetoric influences desensitization. “Courageous Leadership” addresses similar issues.

“We once again apologize for our mistake,” Phi Delta Theta and Interfraternity Council President Jimmy Germi said in the statement released by the international organization. “We intend to go beyond what has been asked of us and hope to set the standard for fraternity men by collaborating with other student organizations, developing and implementing long-term educational programs and hosting campus-wide events to address issues within campus culture.” 

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