How NOT to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo This Year

By Victoria Robertson on May 5, 2017

For most college students, Cinco de Mayo is almost as important as St. Patrick’s Day — and it’s really for one reason: the drinking.

And while many individuals celebrate the holiday, it’s very important to keep in mind that this is a cultural holiday. And especially given the state of our country at the moment, this is perhaps a more important time than ever for individuals to be mindful of other’s beliefs and values.

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I mention this because at the Baylor campus, a fraternity threw a “Cinco de Drinko” party, which is pretty standard as far as college campuses go. However, it was the way in which the party was thrown that made it extremely offensive and caused quite a bit of controversy on the campus and across the country.

The fraternity, Kappa Sigma, threw their party last weekend and took distaste to a whole new level.

In an effort to throw a themed party, individuals attended dressed as construction workers or maids and were reportedly chanting “build that wall.”

A seemingly harmless frat party immediately escalated into a full blown racism issue.

While the frat likely saw this as an opportunity for humor, individuals on the campus and across the country disagreed. By Monday morning, there were protests all over the campus calling for retribution against the fraternity.

And, the university responded.

Baylor launched a full investigation, deeming the party “racially insensitive” and suspending the Kappa Sigma chapter due to inconsistency with University values.

According to Baylor officials:

“The university has been made aware of a racially insensitive event that occurred last night off campus. The reported behavior is deeply concerning and does not in any way reflect Baylor’s institutional values. University officials are presently investigating the incident and gathering additional information. Baylor is committed to a Christian mission that actively supports a caring and diverse campus community, and we do not tolerate racism of any kind on our campus.”

This event has not only shed light on the discord between university values and those of their students but also on the holiday itself and the inadvertently racist celebrations that go on at college campuses across the country.

Because, if we’re being honest, this likely isn’t the first time such a party has been thrown, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Though it is a cultural holiday, many individuals of different nationalities celebrate, and that’s perfectly fine, so long as you’re doing so respectfully.

There’s a fine line between humor and offensiveness, a lesson that this fraternity is learning the hard way.

So when planning your Cinco de Mayo party for the weekend, keep this instance in mind so that such events don’t happen again.

In other words, have fun, drink margaritas, play festive music, and put up decorations. Don’t feel barred from doing so, either. But certainly don’t dress up in racially offensive clothing and reenact offensive stereotypes that can be harmful to certain individuals.

And repercussions can certainly be costly.

Students at Baylor are currently calling for more serious action to be taken against the fraternity, including a formal apology, mandatory cultural competency education, and more diversity in general.

In a statement from the fraternity, they claimed “the allegations are inconsistent with the values of Kappa Sigma.”

While this is likely true, and there’s undoubtedly a large amount of regret in the aftermath of the party, what’s done cannot be undone, and this could have all been avoided had the individuals in the fraternity thought for a second about how offensive this idea was.

Given the current state of our country, racially charged actions are under far more scrutiny than ever before, and for good reason. It’s time that we start taking responsibility for such insensitivity and become better people for it.

This is something to keep in mind not only for tomorrow’s holiday but just as a general rule of thumb. Just because something doesn’t feel offensive to you doesn’t mean that it isn’t. And if something does feel offensive, there’s no reason to do it.

Especially on college campuses, inclusiveness is often reiterated as a strong value, and such actions show just how much disconnect there is between university values and those of the individuals on the campus, and that’s something that can come back to you in your job search down the road.

Baylor is finding itself in yet another scandal in a very short period of time, for something that likely occurs at campuses across the country. So, be mindful of what you’re doing this weekend, as your past can certainly come back to haunt you.

So remain racially sensitive, enjoy a couple margaritas and tequila shots (safely and if you’re 21 or over, of course) and have fun!

Just don’t throw an offensive party and you should be just fine!

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!

Victoria is a dedicated writer who graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently writes freelance pieces for various sites and works in Marketing for Myndbee Inc., promoting their current mobile app, Picpal.

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