I know what you’re thinking: “Great, another piece about Fiji and their party.” And you’re right. But hear me out.
I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not advocating indifference or apathy. I just recognize that Fiji’s party is part of a larger problem that exists within many social structures at tons of universities across the country. Fiji may have had suggestive decorations, but all the people who showed up in costumes went along with it. Fiji’s “western” theme — or “Border Patrol” (whichever you prefer) — is one of infinite questionable things that happen behind closed doors and off campus. The fact that students go along with things like this without the slightest apprehension is just as big an issue as Fiji’s decision to throw the party in the first place. Propagating an environment where parties like this are tolerated is a direct result of the student body at UT as a whole, not just Fiji.
Fiji’s goal in throwing its “western” party wasn’t to offend people — at least, not from where I’m sitting. The fraternity's party was just another of the many theme parties that are a staple here at UT, complete with active and consenting participants (see: sombreros and moomoos). The concept of dressing up to get messed up is one I’ve become familiar with since coming to UT, and it’s one that I don’t believe will be going anywhere — people like costumes and decorations too much to wave goodbye to them just yet. If a line was crossed, it was because it has been a thousand times before, without the tiniest sense of remorse. So Fiji got caught. Let’s take a step back, think about the source of the issue and move on.
Yes, Fiji’s lack of foresight is precisely what people are citing as the basis for their anger, and understandably so. But if we intend to call Fiji out for their carelessness, which, for the record, is not much of a surprise considering the culture of partying at UT, we might as well call the rest of the University out while we’re at it.
This past week’s drama is less a reflection of Fiji’s values than a painful reminder of the priorities of this University’s partygoers. If the news of this past week upset you, that’s fine. If you’re questioning why the choices of a few students are still newsworthy, that’s fine too. Either way, let's make a pact to move forward with progressive and purposeful decisions instead of pigeonholing certain institutions.
Berkeley is an associate editor.