Penn State President Rodney Erickson released an open letter to the Penn State community today addressing an issue about some Penn State students celebrating Halloween by wearing costumes that “offended others and was contrary to many of the most important values our university seeks to advance among its constituents and in the world.”
Erickson’s statement comes after the Penn State chapter of Chi Omega was put on probation by their national headquarters because of a photo of them dressed in sombreros and ponchos. In the photo, the members of the sorority held signs that read “Will mow lawn for weed + beer” and “I don’t cut grass I smoke it.”
Erickson said he thinks diversity is an issue that must be addressed throughout the university, even though the expressions of the members are protected by federal and state laws.
“How any constituent groups or individuals in the university could behave with such insensitivity or unawareness is a question we must both ask and answer,” he said in the statement. “Our university is a place of learning and discovery, and there certainly are lessons to be relearned, or even discovered for the first time, from these incidents.”
He said costumes that imitate a group of people always offend someone and usually show a lack of awareness or suggest a “failure to think.”
Erickson said in the statement that the Penn State community must learn to embrace and celebrate different cultures.
“If we can do so, on our campuses and beyond, we will be better, our university will be better, and the world will be better,” he said.
For more details, read Friday’s edition of The Daily Collegian.