Dartmouth Greeks cancel fundraiser for cardiac care over concerns its fiesta theme was racist

Alpha Phi sorority and Phi Delta Alpha fraternity were to put on a "Phiesta" to fundraise for cardiac care.

Daniela Hernandez, a self-described "Mexican-born, United-States-raised" student, complained.

The event has now been canceled.

The presidents of the Phi Delta Alpha fraternity and the Alpha Phi sorority at Dartmouth have canceled a fundraiser for cardiac care over concerns that the theme “Phiesta” might be offensive.

The event, planned for Saturday, invited community members to hear a band play and enjoy virgin piña coladas and strawberry daiquiris, chips and salsa, guacamole and burritos.

All proceeds would have gone toward cardiac treatments, according to an article in The Dartmouth, the official campus newspaper.

But when Daniela Hernandez ’15 heard about the event, she sent an email to complain that the theme was racially insensitive.

“There are various problematic structures and ideologies regarding a Cinco de Mayo-inspired event, and I am sure that we, as a Dartmouth community, could learn from the extensive literature written about the Americanization of Cinco de Mayo and its construction as a drinking holiday in the United States, cultural appropriation and the inappropriate usage of cultural clothing, and the exploitation of groups of people and cultures for the sake of business opportunities,” Hernandez said in an email to several Dartmouth organizations, including Greek Letter Organizations and Societies, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, and Dean Charlotte Johnson.

“As a Mexican-born, United-States-raised, first-generation woman of color, it was sadly unsurprising that a culturally-themed party was seen as a casual venture for such a privileged institution such as Dartmouth,” she added.

Phi Delt president Taylor Catchcart said Hernandez’s concerns were worth cancelling the entire event.

“We felt that the possibility of offending even one member of the Dartmouth community was not worth the potential benefits of having the fundraiser,” Cathcart told The Dartmouth.

Greek members held an informal meeting to discuss insensitivity in response to the event.

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