Fairfield University ponders discipline over 'ghetto'-themed party

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Marcus Solis reports a forum is being held at Fairfield University in the wake of a "ghetto"-themed off-campus party.

Fairfield University officials are planning a forum to discuss racial issues on campus in the wake of a "ghetto"-themed off-campus party.

Saturday's party, at a beach house in the affluent Bridgeport suburb near the private Jesuit school, reportedly included white students in blackface or wearing temporary gang tattoos, chains and other "ghetto" attire.

"We have confirmed that it was 'ghetto' themed, but we have not confirmed that there were any students in blackface or in brown makeup," school spokeswoman Teddy DeRosa said. "We have seen no photographic evidence, and none of the students interviewed have mentioned anything of the sort."

She said university officials are in the process of determining whether any students will face discipline. She said there is no criminal aspect to the investigation and police are not involved.

The Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, the university's president, sent a letter to the campus community decrying the party for perpetuating racial stereotypes. He said he is committed to "continuing to engage in critical dialogue to build an inclusive community of learners from a diversity of social, economic, racial, cultural, national and religious backgrounds."

About 73 percent of Fairfield's 4,000 undergraduate students are white, while just over 2 percent are black and 7 percent are Latino, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Fairfield University Student Association, the school's student government, held an emergency meeting Monday night to discuss the party, and a closed forum was planned for Wednesday night.

DeRosa said that group and school leaders are planning an open forum on Wednesday where the campus community can come to discuss racial issues and express their concerns.

"I have encouraged my peers to engage in dialogue with friends around this issue regardless of how uncomfortable it may be," said Anif McDonald, the president of the student association.
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