Oldham and Belli: In response to the Latinx open letter

Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent to the Greek community on Tuesday, April 12, at 6:40 p.m. The Observer received it on the same day.

To the Case Western Reserve University community,

Our names are Will Oldham and Gina Belli, and we are the presidents of CWRU’s Interfraternity Congress (IFC) and Panhellenic Council (PHC), respectively. We are writing today not only as members of the fraternity and sorority community of CWRU, but also as official representatives of IFC, PHC and the CWRU Greek Life community.

By now, many of you are aware of the events that occurred on Friday, April 8 at the Greek Week Variety Show. Phi Delta Theta fraternity’s performance included the use of Mexican sarapes and sombreros, and included other references to Mexican culture. In an open letter from concerned Latinx members of the CWRU community, concerns were vocalized over the appropriation of Mexican culture and a lack of understanding of the daily challenges faced by many Latinx students on this campus.

To the Greek Life community, regardless of your beliefs, backgrounds or ideologies, we ask that you and the larger CWRU community use this time as an opportunity to start a meaningful dialogue. Whether or not you agree with the sentiments expressed in the open letter we must, as a community, recognize that there are real people, with real experiences, who feel threatened by these events or the possibility of retaliation. It is therefore not a time to pick sides, be incendiary on social media or be dismissive of other perspectives. We ask our Greek community, and the larger CWRU community, to recognize this moment as a time to listen deeply and be willing to be changed by what we hear. Do not let frustration or confusion bring your voices to dominate others, and do not let fear or misunderstanding keep your voices silent. Instead, reach out to members of your communities to start and continue meaningful conversations.

To those affected by these events because of race, color, background and/or lived experience, we urge you to reach out and find the support you need. It may be through University Counseling Services (counseling@case.edu or 216-368-5872), leaders of your communities or other campus offices. CWRU is home to all on our campus, and all deserve the same sense of security and comfort. We admire and appreciate those of you who have had the courage to speak up when you feel threatened, and wish to reassure you that we hear your concerns, and want to continue to have an open dialogue in the coming days and weeks. We do not approve of any sort of retaliatory behavior, and will hold accountable any members who engage in those behaviors.

To the campus community at large, we wish to be transparent through this process. As we develop short- and long-term plans, we will inform the CWRU community of the steps we are taking, and also welcome any and all voices that wish to participate in these dialogues.

We know that the CWRU Greek Life community is strong, compassionate and eager to prove that we can be the influence and change in our communities that our values and rituals compel us to be. Let’s work together to achieve that progress


Will Oldham and Gina Belli

IFC President and PHC President