A University of Michigan fraternity is groveling to progressive student activists after condemnations of their Egypt-themed party led them to cancel the event.
In a Facebook description as innocent as it was brief, the brothers of Delta Sigma Phi invited their peers to "[c]ome to Delta Sig as a mummy, Cleopatra, or King Tut, it doesn't matter to us. Get your best ancient Egyptian robe and headdress and be ready to party in the desert. Be careful though, it's going to get HOT."
Unfortunately for the fraternity, things got hot well before their party was slated to begin.
Their invitation was enough to draw the War and Peace of Facebook statuses from Yasmeen Afifi, the president of the school's Egyptian Student Association, who spent more than 500 words explaining why the party was "extremely offensive and disrespectful."
"This is much larger than just a party," Afifi wrote, "it is the privilege that led this frat to think this was remotely okay that needs to be analyzed. White people need to cognizant of their identity and their role throughout history. White people have invaded, stolen, erased, and defaced numerous ancient Egyptian artifacts, symbols and temples in attempt to claim one of the greatest civilizations as their own."
Afifi wrote that she "couldn't expect more out of white fraternity," itself a fairly racist comment. She went on: "Imagine being one of the most advanced civilizations that has shaped the world we live in today with our architectural genius, literature, science, astronomy, mythology, religion, and mathematics, just to be disrespected for white people's entertainment."
"What exactly is your contribution to society?" she asked the brothers, whose initial invitation claimed the theme was chosen to "honor" the fraternity's "Egyptian roots."
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the ESA's efforts were supported by the school's NAACP chapter and Students4Justice, which argued the party "[continued] to reveal the violence that is perpetuated by the Interfraternity Council, Greek Life systems, and whiteness as a whole."
To recap, a fraternity asking partygoers to dress "as a mummy, Cleopatra, or King Tut" and wear their "best ancient Egyptian robe and headdress and be ready to party in the desert" was somehow offensive enough to "reveal the violence that is perpetrated" by Greek life and "whiteness as a whole."
Grant Strobl, a leader of the conservative Young Americans for Freedom chapter at the University of Michigan, responded to the controversy in a statement to the Washington Examiner. "One of the many victims of political correctness is fun," he said. "Are we going to ban toga parties because they appropriate ancient Roman culture? Should we end Greek Life because it appropriates the ancient Greeks?"
The fraternity itself issued a lengthy apology for being "insensitive to various groups." But even that didn't satisfy Afifi, who refused to accept the apology until its drafters agreed to read articles she sent them and rework their statement. "I felt that their apology was very cliche and made the issue feel very surface level," she explained. "Students need to understand this issue surpasses a themed party- it's the impact of years of white washing Egyptian culture, erasing our identities, and Orientalism."
Strobl, who serves as the national chairman for YAF (my previous employer) and also belongs to a fraternity on campus, said he was "disappointed in [Delta Sigma Phi] for apologizing for something they have no need to apologize for."
He went one step further. "I am calling on all of my fellow students at the University of Michigan to request ‘Walk Like an Egyptian' by the Bangles at every party the first week of school," Strobl said.
It should be noted that classes at the University of Michigan don't even begin until Sept. 5. Wolverines are in for a long semester.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.