Penn Frat in Hot Water over Christmas Message with Beyonce Blow-Up Doll

The Penn chapter of Phi Delta Theta is facing several investigations after sending out a holiday message featuring a caricatured Beyonce blow-up doll.

The Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Penn is in trouble after a member posted a Christmas message featuring a photo of frat members — and a blow-up doll (supposedly) meant to resemble Beyonce. The blow-up doll is in the upper-left hand corner of the image. Most of the frat brothers are white.

After an outcry, Phi Delta Theta President Jimmy Germi told several minority student groups on campus the toy was a Beyonce blow-up doll meant as a gag gift at the frat’s Secret Santa swap — but that “once removed from the packaging, it bore no semblance to the artist beyond skin color adding to its offensive nature.” (Here’s guessing it’s this one, on sale at Spencer’s and Amazon. That’s been on sale since at least 2010.)

The Daily Pennsylvanian printed a statement from a coalition of student minority groups, as well as a draft apology from Phi Delta Theta.

“The inclusion of a racially and sexually charged object in such a flagrant fashion displays a serious and immediate need for repercussions that reflect the severity of this misogynistic, racist offense,” a joint statement issued by the 5B — the five umbrella coalitions for minority groups on campus — and the Penn Consortium for Undergraduate Women said. “We — UMOJA, APSC, UMC, Latin@ Coalition, Lambda Alliance, and PCUW — firmly believe that when an event like this marginalizes one of our communities, it marginalizes us all.”

“What particularly concerns us is how flippant this deeply misogynistic and racist choice seems to have been,” an addendum from the PCUW read.

The draft apology, signed “The Brothers of Phi Delta Theta at the University of Pennsylvania,” said the Beyoncé sex toy was “distasteful” and that “once removed from the packaging, it bore no semblance to the artist beyond skin color adding to its offensive nature.” The apology said “there were absolutely no prejudicial motivations behind the gift,” but acknowledged that “the absence of racial motivation is no justification for this act of poor judgement and the decision not to include a sex toy in a holiday picture should have been an easy one.”

Yes, perhaps it should have. Now several student groups are calling for the fraternity to be punished, and the chapter is under investigation by both the international parent organization and the university.

[The DP]