The mess began earlier this week, when The Courier-Journal published a picture of Louisville president James Ramsey and much of his staff bedecked with stereotypical Mexican garb, from sombreros to fake mustaches to maracas (Ramsey himself is on the bottom right, in a poncho). The picture was taken at a Halloween party hosted by Ramsey and his wife at their home.
Louisville student Olivia Krauth eviscerated Ramsey for the image in a Thursday column published in the campus paper, claiming that dressing in traditional Mexican garb was racist.
“The president of a school that prides itself in diversity opted to dress himself and his staff as a culture for Halloween,” Krauth wrote. “There’s a word for this. It’s called racism.” Krauth argued that the consequences would be severe if a fraternity were caught in the same situation Ramsey was.
Ramsey’s chief of staff Kathleen Smith apologized in a statement Thursday responding to the column. “We made a mistake and are very sorry,” Smith said, adding they had met with representatives of the college’s Hispanic community in order to show “our deep regret for the hurt this experience has caused.”
Smith also vowed the university would institute new diversity and racial equality training for staff to avoid future diversity-related incidents.
Louisville is already mired in a sex scandal. A grand jury investigation is ongoing into a woman’s allegations she was paid by the school’s basketball program to have sex with players and recruits.