Students agree with decision to cancel controversial Egyptian-themed frat party
We polled University of Michigan students on their stance
On August 19th, fraternity Delta Sigma Phi canceled their "Nile" themed welcome week party due to cultural appropriation. The Facebook invitation asked attendees to "come dressed as a mummy, Cleopatra, or King Tut, it doesn't matter," which called the attention of the Egyptian Club. President Yasmeen Afifi raised concerns about the types of stereotypes a party like this might continue to perpetrate.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Yasmeen stated "My Egyptian roots are far more significant than a simple costume or a lame party. I take pride in the grandeur of my people’s legacy and will not allow my culture to be appropriated for your entertainment."
The fraternity apologized in a letter posted to their Facebook page, stating that they pride themselves on being a "diverse social fraternity" and that they "apologize to anyone hurt by the theme choice."
The Egyptian Student Association is waiting for Delta Sig to rewrite their apology before they make a statement, Yasmeen stating that "it's evident people don't understand the history behind this issue and I think the only way to combat ignorance is through education." She has spoken to the fraternity and they have agreed to educate themselves on colonialism and Egyptian culture before rewriting the statement.
But what does the average University of Michigan student think about the controversial party? Should it have been cancelled?
In a poll conducted by The Tab surveying almost 100 UMich students, nearly 56% voted that the frat made the right move in canceling the party, while 44% think Delta Sig should've been able to party on.
"It's similar to the toga parties and it all seemed very innocent to me. At a certain point, not every party theme is offensive. It can just be people trying to have fun," said Dana*, a UMich senior majoring in history. "I have to wonder if this party would be held to such high standards if it were through another organization that was not Greek Life related."
Other students firmly agree with the decision to cancel the party. "I think that Yasmeen has taken a very brave stance here. This is her history and it's been portrayed in the wrong way for such a long time, she absolutely has a right to be upset about it," said Sarah*, a UMich senior majoring in film. "Our main idea of what Cleopatra looks like is Elizabeth Taylor, a British woman. That definitely affects how people see her and Egypt."
Sarah* thinks the party would have been disrespectful considering history. "The way the West got to know ancient Egypt in the first place was through grave robbing," Sarah said. "And now we dress up as their dead, whose tombs we disturbed and stole from."
Whatever your stance on this issue, it doesn't look like Greek Life is going to be throwing this type of party any time soon.