UVA Frat Throws Bombs Over Baghdad Party And Has No Idea Why People Are Upset
In more news of fraternities doing completely stupid things, we have news of a UVA frat holding a party with a rather offensive and hurtful theme and seeing absolutely nothing wrong with it. The Zeta Psi fraternity threw a Bombs Over Baghdad party claiming that it was an Outkast-themed party (they have a song with that title) and it did not go over very well with UVA’s Iraqi students.
In response to a request for a comment, second year Gardner Fiveash, the president of the UVA Zeta Psi chapter, stated that the party was named solely inÂ reference to the song, part of the 2000 album Stankonia. Gardner said, â€œa bunch ofÂ the guys in our chapter are huge fans and wanted to do an Outkast themed party.â€
The controversial theme was offensive to students, including Hanan Hameed, founder of the Hoos for Refugees group that provides support for Iraqi refugees in the Charlottesville area. Hanan was born in Baghdad and was living there during the Gulf War bombings, and is part of a large community of Iraqi students on grounds.
Hanan thought the â€œBombs Over Baghdadâ€ theme was extremely insensitive. Despite the fact that there is a song of the same name, Hanan said, â€œitâ€™s still not appropriate because when you make that the title of your party, youâ€™re making a theme out of peopleâ€™s misery. I survived a gruesome war, and itâ€™s not okay to make fun of that experience.â€ Hanan pointed to the many civilian deaths that resulted from the bombings in Iraq and said that, â€œthis theme dehumanizes the victims in Iraq by trivializing their deaths.â€
This is obviously a weak excuse on Zeta Psi’s part for positively terrible judgment. Outkast has a rather extensive repertoire and there are many other songs or albums they could have used to theme it up if that was really what they were going for. Doesn’t a The Love Below party sound like way more fun and not at all racist and trivializing of horrific (recent) events? This is obviously patently offensive and the Iraqi students have every right to be angry about it. However, this was not Zeta Psi’s first time at the controversy rodeo. They have been in hot water before over accusations of racism and also, hazing:
This is not the only issue Zeta Psi has had in recent years. The fraternity was newly reinstated on grounds in the fall of 2013 after being shut down for two years due to hazing practices that sent a pledge to the hospital for three days. In addition, it was suspended in 2002 after an issue with students wearing â€œblackfaceâ€ Halloween costumes to one of the fraternityâ€™s parties.
I’m glad to hear the “blackface” party garnered a suspension, as was absolutely warranted. Free speech is a thing and these guys can have a party titled whatever they like. But free speech does not mean protection from backlash and people standing up for what’s right. They can have this party and call it what they want but the public is allowed to protest it and be upset about it. I applaud these students for speaking out and if you would like to sign their petition, demanding a formal apology from Zeta Psi, it’s right here.