University Apologizes for President's Offensive Costume Party

The University of Louisville has offered an apology after its president hosted what has been deemed as a very offensive costume party last Wednesday.


President James Ramsey and members of his staff wore sombreros, colorful ponchos and fake blackmustachesand held maracas as part of a “Mexican bandit” costume.

Hispanic students, who comprise 3.42 percent of the university’s population, were less than impressed by the staff’s costume choice. And according to one student, it goes farther than only offending Mexicans.

“I was appalled,” said Leonardo Salinas, a freshman at the university. “It’s not just offensive to Mexicans; it’s offensive to the immigrant community as a whole.”

According to the university’s website, 4.89 percent of students are classified as “Non-Resident Alien[s].”

Olivia Krauth wrote an op-ed for the Louisville Cardinal school newspaper following the incident. According to Krauth, the ramifications of President Ramsey’s actions are even more significant because he should be held at an even higher standard than his students.

“Never mind that if a fraternity threw a party with a Mexican theme and pictures of them in these outfits got out, they would be in huge trouble just like countless other Greek organizations across the country in the past few years,” she wrote. “As the president of a university, I would expect more. I would expect thought and research into whether or not this is considered offensive. Frankly, I would expect more creativity in costume selection. But I guess my expectations are too high for Ramsey.”

Like Krauth, Salinas also wondered how such costumes were deemed appropriate to begin with. “Someone thought, ‘Oh, this is a good idea,'” he said. “How did it not click in anybody’s mind that it was a very bad idea”

It only seemed to click that the costumes were, at the least, not the smartest choice for attire after a picture of the party was published in an online photo gallery. Had the picture not made it online, the university’s Hispanic community may never have seen an apology.

Kathleen Smith, Chief of Staff to President Ramsey, issued an apology on behalf of the university.

“We made a mistake and are very sorry. We have met with Sarah Nuez, UofL’s Director of the Office of Hispanic and Latino Initiatives, and shared with her our deep regret for the hurt this experience has caused,” Smith’s statement said.

The fact that the university has an Office of Hispanic and Latino Initiatives yet such an incident still occurred shows that simply having someone in a position to promote diversity and inclusion is not enough without strong action behind the initiative.

Nuez hopes the community will learn from the incident. “We’re human beings, we’re not costumes,” she said.

According to Smith, the university will “commit to a series of campus conversations with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to further focus on diversity and racial equality issues,” expressing that “we have much more to learn about our community.”

“Our office will institute immediate training on diversity and racial equality issues,” the statement concluded.

Hopefully the training will be a requirement for President Ramsey, who did not issue an apology of his own until a day after the university made its statement and after a group of students protested outside the president’s office.

Ramsey said he hopes the incident “doesn’t detract from the hard work we the entire UofL community have done and continue to do in building an inclusive, supportive, welcoming campus for all our university family.”

If Ramsey considers his offensive costume party the results of “hard work” dedicated to diversity and inclusion, the university or, at the very least, Ramsey and his staff has a long way to go.

Latest News

Novartis Chief Medical Officer John Tsai on Balancing Medical Innovations With Patient Needs

Originally published at novartis.com by Elizabeth Dougherty. John Tsai is Novartis’ Head of Global Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer. Novartis Pharmaceuticals is a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.   John Tsai’s career as a physician, and now as Head of Global Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer for Novartis, had an unlikely…

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed

City of Montgomery, Alabama Faces $25,000 State Fine for Changing Street Named After a Confederate Leader

Despite a state law designed to “protect” longstanding Confederate monuments and memorials, the city of Montgomery, Alabama, has decided that it would rather incur a fine than continue going on with a city street named after President of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865, Jefferson Davis. Kim Chandler of…

Global Diversity

Despite Massive Uptick in Global DEI Initiatives, New Study Reveals Real Change in Corporate Workforces Remains Slow 

Even though DEI as a business imperative continues to grow both in the United States and around the world, a new study has found that many business leaders and executives have merely raised awareness of why diversity, equity and inclusion is important — as opposed to actually making meaningful progress…

Novartis Collaborates With Microsoft To Innovate Medicine Through Data and Artificial Intelligence

Originally published on LinkedIn. Novartis Pharmaceuticals is a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.   “We are not just discoverers. We actually create molecules that have never been made before.” Says Karin Briner, Head of Global Discovery Chemistry at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR). By collaborating with Microsoft and augmenting the expertise of our…

Mastercard Announces Launch of Crescent City Card Program in Partnership With New Orleans and MoCaFi

Originally published at mastercard.com. Mastercard ranked No. 5 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell was joined by executives from Mastercard, Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. (MoCaFi), and Forward Together New Orleans to announce the Crescent City Card Program. The program involves a…

Mastercard on Supporting Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Development by Expanding Its ‘City Possible’ Network

Originally published at mastercard.com. Mastercard ranked No. 5 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Mastercard has continued to expand its support for addressing urban challenges and inequalities, working with city leaders and partners around the world, through the City Possible™ network and capabilities. The unique solutions…

Rep. Ilhan Omar

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert Makes Anti-Muslim Comments Against Fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota

Following the horrific example of Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who posted an animated video depicting the killing of his congressional colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another member of the House of Representatives has made a similarly vile attack on a co-worker based purely on her religious beliefs. James Anderson of the…

Pinterest app

Pinterest Enacting New Company-Wide DEI Initiatives Following Gender and Race Discrimination Lawsuit

Following a lawsuit led by the General Treasurer of Rhode Island, social media company Pinterest has announced that it will be enacting a series of new diversity, equity and inclusion workplace reforms to settle a recent lawsuit against them. Patrick Anderson of The Providence Journal reported that “the reforms are…