One week, two fraternities under investigation for offensive language. Just days after members of University of Oklahoma's Sigma Alpha Epsilon frat were caught on video singing a racially charged song, the University of Maryland has begun its own investigation into a derogatory email sent by a fraternity brother more than a year ago. In the email, which dates back to January 2014, a member of Maryland's Kappa Sigma fraternity used racist and sexist slurs against black, Indian, and Asian women and allegedly alludes to raping women during the fraternity's rush events, according to radio station WTOP.
Both the university and fraternity said in statements they discovered the email's existence this week. The fraternity's national organization has since suspended the student, who was an undergraduate member at the time the email was written. The Maryland chapter has also started procedures to formally expel the member from the fraternity. The Kappa Sigma statement reads:
The language and views expressed in the email were inexcusable and are in stark contrast to the values of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. They are counter to everything Kappa Sigma stands for. This action by a single individual is in no way representative of the culture or diversity of Kappa Sigma’s chapter at the University of Maryland, nor the character of the general fraternity’s nearly 20,000 undergraduate and more than 220,000 living alumni members.
University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh said in a statement that the school became aware of the email on Tuesday and immediately met with the fraternity member. He said the email contained “vulgar language” that expressed “views that are reprehensible to our campus community.” A school investigation, led by the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct, is currently underway. A University of Maryland representative could not be reached for further comment. The rest of Loh's statement reads:
At their request, the University has committed to provide educational training on diversity and respect for the entire fraternity. The University of Maryland remains committed to our core values of respect for human dignity, diversity, and inclusiveness. We are deeply saddened by the impact this email is having on our community.
Loh also took to Twitter to express his disappointment in the offensive comments.
This isn’t the first time that Kappa Sigma has been blasted for penning offensive emails. In 2011, Jezebel published a Kappa Sigma email that made the rounds on the University of Southern California’s campus. In it, a fraternity brother calls women “targets” who “aren’t actual people like us men” and that “giving them a certain name or distinction is pointless.” Duke University’s Kappa Sigma chapter was caught hosting a #RacistRager that celebrated Asian stereotypes in 2013.
College Greek life has always been Greek to me. I've never quite understood how a pay-to-participate model can create what often is an unwarranted elitist environment. But if recent events are any indicator of what kind of obscene behavior lurks in frat houses and their beer-splattered walls, why anyone would want to join these fraternities of “True Gentlemen” is truly beyond me.