Penn State students will come together in a silent walk Thursday to make their feelings known following recent events involving Chi Omega sorority and a photo the Penn State Panhellenic Council deemed “offensive.”
The photo depicts members of Chi Omega wearing ponchos and sombreros. Women affiliated with the sorority are holding signs that read “Will mow lawn for weed + beer” and “I don’t cut grass I smoke it.”
Following the incident, Penn State students created the student group called PSU For All Student Equality (PSU-FASE).
Julie Mastrine (senior-public relations) a member of the Students for a Democratic Society wrote in an email that “PSU-FASE denounces all forms of racism, sexism, classism and homophobia and seeks to draw attention to social inequality.”
The formation of the group was not a direct result of the photo but the incident catalyzed the creation of the group, Manuel Figueroa (junior-philosophy and political science), president of the Puerto Rican Student Association, said.
The group includes students from a variety of groups and cultures. The group has the “common goal of addressing real issues,” Figueroa said.
Figueroa is involved with both the creation of the group and the planning of the walk.
The group is planning the silent walk to promote a “socially just campus climate” at Penn State, Mastrine, a former Collegian staff member, said.
The silent walk will begin at Pennypacker Hall in East Residence Halls at noon Thursday.
“A silent walk would be best to give a very specific, concise, pre-determined and clear message,” Figueroa said.
PSU-FASE chose a silent walk because the group felt it would be the best way to send a message without attracting negative attention from the national media, Figueroa said.
Similar walks in California led by Cesar Chavez inspired the event, Figueroa said.
Figueroa compared the “powerful” walk to larger movements.
Sloane Shearman (senior-cultural anthropology), a member of SDS who attended a Diversity Task Force meeting held last week, wanted to continue her involvement.
She echoed Figueroa’s feelings about the silent walk.
“We wanted it to be peaceful, not about protest,” Shearman said.
Shearman focused on the importance of the community coming together to promote diversity.
Shearman said she hoped the walk would promote hope.
“We believe in Penn State becoming a place where diversity is accepted,” she said.
Since the surfacing of the aforementioned photo, Chi Omega’s Penn State chapter has been placed on probation and the president of the sorority apologized on behalf of the women pictured.