NEWARK, Del. (AP)- A Latino student organization at the University of Delaware is demanding that an honor fraternity expel members who attended a Cinco de Mayo party deemed by some people to be offensive.
Party photographs that appeared online this week have prompted the Campus Alliance de La Raza to demand that Phi Sigma Pi expel members who attended the off-campus event, which was not sanctioned by the fraternity.
The photographs, which appeared on a student's Facebook Web site page, showed some students dressed as gardeners wearing work shirts with "Pedro" and "Jose" name tags, and a racist slur scrawled across the back.
Other photos from what one partygoer described as a "politically incorrect twist" on Cinco de Mayo, pictured three students in red, white and green shirts with the word "Mexico" on the front, and "Spicy," "Full of Tequila" and "Hott" on the backs.
La Raza and Phi Sigma Pi scheduled a forum Wednesday night to discuss the party and allegations of racism. The university, which has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, also is investigating.
In formal apologies posted on La Raza's Web site, students said they did not believe their costumes would be offensive, nor were they acting maliciously.
"In no way were these outfits, or these pictures meant to offend anyone," Jacqui Croteau, one of the participants, said in a statement. "I did not fully understand, at the time these pictures were taken, how harmful the idea of dressing in this way could be to a community."
Craig de Mariana Aleman, graduate student adviser to La Raza, said that as a Mexican-American, he had to "take a few minutes" after viewing the photos before he could advise the group on how to proceed.
"It hit pretty hard," he said. "It's throwing this message at me that Mexicans are drunk, they indulge in alcohol or are sexually promiscuous. That was equally as hurtful for me as looking at the gardeners."
Brian Brady, president of UD's Phi Sigma Pi chapter, said the party was not an organization-sponsored event, and that disciplinary action is being taken against the members who attended the party.
"We hold 'freedom from prejudice' in extremely high regard, and do not tolerate bigotry or discrimination in any form," he wrote in a statement on the La Raza Web site, calling the actions of the students "unacceptable."
A statement released by the national chapter of Phi Sigma Pi, which also is investigating the incident, said the organization does not condone discriminatory conduct or behavior.