Fairfield University Investigates Students’ ‘Ghetto-themed Party’

The Fairfield University campus on Monday.
The Fairfield University campus on Monday.

A “ghetto-themed” party hosted Saturday by Fairfield University students in off-campus housing has set off both an investigation and a call for more sensitivity on the sprawling, suburban campus.

“It is truly disappointing to see my fellow students … behave in such a manner that mocks (another) race,” Anmol Tabassum, a Bridgeport resident and Fairfield University sophomore, said Monday.

“The fact that there was even an idea to dress as ‘ghetto’ is an intrinsically perverted issue,” said Joe Harding, a Fairfield University junior from Philadelphia. “When a party has a theme, the participants are expected to wear a costume. In this case, the partygoers chose to wear clothing and accessories that portrayed their conceptualizations of what it means to be ghetto … Ghetto is not a term of endearment.”

Harding called the event “despicable” and “disappointing.”

Tabassum, who is originally from Pakistan and graduated from Bassick High School in Bridgeport, said she wants the university to take immediate and appropriate action and open more channels of communication.

University officials are saying they will.

After responding to social media posts and at least one picture allegedly taken at the party, on Monday Jennifer Anderson, the university’s vice president of marketing and communications, said officials are working with students and diversity officials to investigate.

“There was a party on Saturday evening, at a house on the beach,” Anderson confirmed. “We are working to understand the details.”

University spokeswoman Teddy DeRosa said appropriate actions would be taken as soon as the facts have been determined.

University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, in an email to the university community later Monday, said the theme of the reported party “perpetuated racial stereotypes that have no place in our community and only serve to offend and devalue people.”

The university’s Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs will hold extended evening hours to talk to students about the incident, von Arx said. In addition, the student government association was to hold an emergency meeting to plan a student forum on the subject.

Anderson said students in off-campus housing are held to the same code of conduct and behavior as those living on campus.

“We expect that our students, faculty and staff maintain the highest level of respect for one another,” she said. “We will be investigating this matter immediately, and will take appropriate actions as soon as the facts have been determined.”

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SOURCE: Linda Conner Lambeck and Silvia Foster-Frau