Fong, son of Chinese immigrants, has emphasized open discussions about racial issues since he came to Ursinus in July 2011.
In the Halloween case, a group of male students dressed as the U.S. women's gymnastic team, and one painted his face black to portray Gabby Douglas. Several students approached him and told him it was offensive.
Fong said the student appeared to have acted out of ignorance rather than callousness. He has been meeting with the offended parties and has apologized, Fong said.
Epiphany Summers, president of the college's black student union, was skeptical.
She noted the offending student was a senior and questioned how someone at that stage of his academic career could be unaware of the hurtful connotation of such a costume, especially at a campus where racial issues have cropped up almost every year.
As recently as January 2011, for instance, someone carved the n-word at the podium where a black teacher usually lectures.
Still, Summers said, the community's response this time was comprehensive and constructive.
"Before, when we had hate crimes, everyone would come together and say, 'Oh! Let's all be friends' and 'Let's meet a new person every day' and dumb stuff like that," said Summers, a junior majoring in psychology and sociology. "But this time, a lot of students came up with actual solutions."
One proposal, she said, is to strengthen communication between the administration and students, such as by announcing that disciplinary hearings will be held even if the school can't identify the offending student.
The campus, which enrolls about 1,750 undergraduates, has a diversity commission and numerous clubs devoted to race, culture, sexuality, mental health, and other issues. The student body is 75 percent white, and according to the college's website, 85 percent of students receive some financial aid to assist with the hefty private-school price tag - more than $53,000 a year for students who live on campus.
Just one week after the Halloween party, students received an e-mail with a URL for "hot or crazy." The website showed two student ID photos and asked the viewer to vote - which is hotter, and which is crazier. After answering, another set of photos would pop up.
The college contacted the Web hosting server and had the site taken down in less than 24 hours.
The photos were taken from an internal college website that allows students to look up one another's names and photographs. "Hot or crazy" featured men and women, and allowed users to search by name.
Fong said the site violated the school's computer-use policy and also was an unauthorized use of other students' IDs. A disciplinary panel comprising students and faculty is hearing the case.
Sophomore Gena Rodriguez and senior Andre Kiss said students' reactions to the site were mixed - some found it entertaining, others offensive. And some of those most upset were chagrined over their rating, Rodriguez said.
Kiss thought it was unfair to rate people based on their student ID photos, which are taken at freshman orientation, when many do not look their best.
"That's because your ID photo is so bad," Rodriguez teased. Kiss acknowledged it was bad.
Rodriguez was "pretty proud of the reaction" on campus, saying both incidents were dealt with swiftly and openly. Kiss agreed, adding that although the stunts were stupid and insensitive, they weren't targeting or bullying any individuals.
A group of male students playing a board game in the student union said they didn't see the site while it was up. But after the college sent several e-mails about it, they opined it was "amusing, but could be hurtful." The news that it was taken down sparked a discussion about free speech, libel, and cyberbullying.
Freshman Brighid Fitzpatrick said she was still waiting for the faculty to weigh in and provide some closure.
The site creator's motivation may have been immature or naive, she said, but the site was not an innocuous prank. It could do real harm to students at a stage when they are "very insecure about who they are in life," she said, citing high rates of body-image and mental-health issues on college campuses.
University officials would not disclose the possible penalties the violators may face in the two cases.
Fitzpatrick and more than a dozen other students The Inquirer interviewed last week said the back-to-back violations were not reflective of campus culture, but rather of society as a whole.
Still, Fitzpatrick said the campus' track record left her with "an overall sense of, 'Is this going to happen again?' "
Contact Jessica Parks at 610-313-8117 or email@example.com.