University students make Facebook and social faux pas

Kali Price

Theme parties are a part of the college experience. For a night you can be someone else, whether it’s a celebrity, a CEO or a school girl. It’s all just to have a good time.

But some Clemson students took the idea of a theme party too far.

CNN reported Tuesday that the university and the NAACP are stepping in to investigate an off-campus party that occurred during Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend on Jan. 14.

The students went all out for the “gangsta”-themed party, reportedly in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Some partygoers wore sports jerseys and fake grills. One flaunted an Afro wig and a fake chain. One female stuffed something into her pants to pad her butt and make it look gigantic. Some drank malt liquor, duct-taped 40-ounces to their hands and drank 40s out of brown paper bags. All of these students were white.

Sounds somewhat normal for a theme party, right?

Wrong. One white student crossed the line when he painted his body to look like a black person. His outfit was complete with a white wife beater, fedora and what appeared to be a Black & Mild in his mouth. It is believed that more students may have painted their bodies as well, according to reports by The Associated Press.

CNN described the students’ outfits as “parodies of African Americans.”

Their costumes are examples of stereotypes and bigotry — the exact things that King fought against.

The party’s organizers did apologize in a letter saying they “never meant any harm,” the AP reported.

And the same type of thing happened at other schools across the United States. At Tarleton State in Texas, members of one fraternity held a similar themed party at a member’s house, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The brothers who attended and other partiers ate fried chicken, drank malt liquor wrapped in brown paper bags and dressed like the students did at Clemson, according to AP reports. One woman took it as far to wear a white kerchief on her head, a red- and white-checkered apron, oven mitts and held a bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup in one hand and a 40-ounce in a brown paper bag in the other.

At the University of Texas at Austin, first-year law students had a “ghetto fabulous” party in October, just like the other parties, but partygoers there wore chains and name tags with historically black and Hispanic names written on them. The students were lectured by the dean for participating in the party, according to the AP.

Tarleton State officials are still investigating the incident and the students may face disciplinary action ranging from a warning to suspension.

But why are these parties coming under fire? Because students posted pictures from the parties on Facebook.

The universities may take disciplinary action against the students. They deserve to be mortified in the public light for taking the parties’ themes too far. Their actions just fostered racist stereotypes and that’s not right, especially in honor of King.

The next time you go to a theme party — especially a “ghetto” or “gangsta” themed one — be careful and respectful. You never know who might see the Facebook photos.

Kali Price is a junior newspaper journalism major and assistant Forum page editor. Contact her at [email protected].