PKT/TEP Rivalry Posters Offensive
On Tuesday, Tau Epsilon Phi put up posters in their annual water war with Phi Kappa Theta. The point of their posters was to offend PKT. And what better way to insult them than by comparing their pledges to people of color and suggesting homoeroticism within their fraternity.
Obviously a work of great humor and witty satire, the poster sported the phrases "Go ape!" and "Bend over" next to the image of an oppressed third world person of color. At about midnight I contacted Kamal P. Nigam '94, president of TEP, to express my displeasure with the posters, naively hoping for an apology, or at least recognition of their homophobic and racist content.
After basically dismissing my claims by chalking it up to rivalry between TEP and PKT, he told me that he did not find the poster homophobic or racist and that I was "just being oversensitive." He then proceeded to try to get me on the defensive by asking me to justify my claim that the posters are homophobic and racist, feigning ignorance as to their offensive contents despite their blatant derogatory message.
After failing to convince me that "Go ape!" was not racist in the context of the poster, he had Thomas A. Lawrence '95, a queer TEP house member, try to appease me as if saying, "Look here is one of our house queers and he doesn't think that it is homophobic, so there!" thus tokenizing Lawrence (a spectacle which I found disgusting).
After an hour of being condescended to and belittled, I hung up without one single apologetic word from TEP. This morning I went to talk with Assistant Dean for Residence and Campus Activities Neal H. Dorow, adviser to fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups, about the posters. He had several suggestions as to what I should and shouldn't do while failing to commit to any course of action himself. As if it were my responsibility as part of the offended parties (being both Latino and queer, a spic and a faggot) to do something about it.
On Wednesday PKT retaliated with equally offensive posters of their own. Again the posters went unchallenged. Their posters were misogynist, homophobic, and juvenile. I am outraged not only that members of the MIT community would put up such posters, but also that the environment at MIT is such that such posters would go up unchallenged simply because they're part of fraternity rivalry. I am surprised that I was the only person that called TEP yesterday, that all the people I've spoken who found it offensive did not also call to complain.
I feel that PKT and TEP should have the human decency to issue a public apology and recognize the ignorance and bigotry inherent in their posters. The MIT administration should also publicly condemn such behavior and perhaps chastise the parties responsible.
Joaquin S. Terrones '97
Political Coordinator of GAMIT