Penn State got another black eye this week when an offensive photo of sorority girls dressed like stereotypical Mexicans surfaced on the Internet.
Smiling like they just got asked to homecoming, the girls of Chi Omega are seen wearing fake mustaches and serapes, and carrying signs with slogans like “I don’t cut grass, I smoke it.”
Classy stuff, no?
The photo was taken during Halloween but went viral on Monday, when it was posted on the campus news site, Onward State. With the Sandusky trial still fresh on people’s minds, the last thing the school needed was another scandal.
Then suddenly, on Tuesday, an It Gets Better video from various members of Penn State’s Panhellenic community surfaced on YouTube. It was posted by openly gay Delta Lambda Phi member Nick Doyle, who is on PSU’s Greek council.
This is the Penn State Greek Life It Gets Better video. I want this video to reach out to all struggling individuals and let them know that no matter what they are going through, that it gets better.
The It Gets Better project was started by Dan Savage in response to LGBTQ youth committing suicide. This video is geared towards LGBT and all individuals that are dealing with a difficult time, we as a community wanted to show that no matter who you are, we support you and that you have a wonderful life ahead of you…
We as a community want to let all of you know, all of you that are struggling, all of you that need a friend, we are here for you. You are an amazing person and have a wonderful life ahead of you. Please always know that it gets better.
It’s a nice sentiment but the timing is suspicious: Could these kids have cobbled together an IGB video in less than a day, as a kind of PR fixit job for the embattled school and its Greek system?
If it was, that’s pretty jaded shit for fresh-faced college kids. Maybe some of them are poli-sci majors.
It does seem like an intentional effort at whitewashing the Chi Omega incident: A piece in Onward State, which applauded the clip, states, “In the wake of scandal regarding one chapter, it’s appropriate to remember that one chapter’s actions do not dictate the entire Greek community.”
Is the reputation of the Greek community really what’s important here?
As the Queerty reader who sent us the homemade PSA—which he calls “possibly the most generically awkward ‘It Gets Better’ video ever”—points out, words like “gay,” lesbian,” “LGBT,” and “suicide” are never uttered. For all the smirks and rah-rah attitude, you’d think they were talking about the winter formal.
Our reader also claims the video description was altered after questions were raised about the clip. (We’ve attempted to get more information but the comment section has been disabled.)
We’re not going to nail Doyle or the other participants in the video to the cross: They’re just kids, and we’re sure some of them are gay or have gay people they love. (And Penn State did receive five out of five stars from Campus Pride.)
But the point of an It Gets Better video is to help kids in need, not cover your ass or salvage your reputation.
Below, a student at the University of South Alabama contributes a somewhat more heartfelt and personal It Gets Better clip.