NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Sigma Nu Fraternity suspended chapter activities at Old Dominion University after students hung offensive banners on a home where some fraternity members live.
The banners showed up Friday on the off-campus house on West 43rd Street. The messages on them said:
- "ROWDY AND FUN HOPE YOUR BABY GIRL IS READY FOR A GOOD TIME..."
- "FRESHMAN DAUGHTER DROP OFF" (with an arrow pointing at the front door)
- "GO AHEAD AND DROP OFF MOM TOO..."
The students who live in the home removed the banners after the school administration contacted them.
Nathaniel Clarkson, director of communications for Sigma Nu Fraternity, told 13News Now four brothers live in the home.
In a statement Monday, Executive Director Brad Beacham said activities of the Eta Chi Chapter are suspended pending completion of an investigation.
"The Fraternity condemns the derogatory and demeaning language used on the banners. Such language has no place in our Fraternity or within any caring community, such as that of ODU," Beacham said. "Any Fraternity member found to be responsible for this reprehensible display will be held accountable by the Fraternity,"
Beacham said Monday that some chapter members may have had involvement with the banners and the fraternity is working with ODU administrators throughout the investigation.
"Upon completion of its investigation, the fraternity will take action in accordance with its principles and code of conduct," Beacham said. "The fraternity will remain in close communication with ODU administrators throughout its investigation and review."
"We thank the national organization of Sigma Nu for partnering with Old Dominion University in making a strong statement that the behavior of a few student members will not be tolerated by announcing the suspension of their local chapter's activities."
Giovanna M. Genard
Acting Assistant Vice President, Strategic Communication and Marketing
ODU Vice President of Student Engagement and Enrollment Services Ellen Neufeldt said any student who violates the university's code of conduct will face disciplinary action by the school.
"Student organizations and our students are subject to our code of conduct and due process. We take that very seriously," Neufeldt said. "Any student that's found to have violated our code will be held accountable with disciplinary action."
She says the university has received several calls from concerned alumni who heard about the banners.
"Our student leaders have stood up against this and said this is not who we are and this is not our culture," said said. "And the actions of a few does not represent all of our students."
ODU President John Broderick sent a letter to the campus community Saturday:
I am outraged about the offensive message directed toward women that was visible for a time on 43rd Street. Our students, campus community and alumni have been offended.
While we constantly educate students, faculty and staff about sexual assault and sexual harassment, this incident confirms our collective efforts are still failing to register with some.
A young lady I talked to earlier today courageously described the true meaning of the hurt this caused. She thought seriously about going back home.
But she was heartened, she explained, when she saw how fellow students were reacting to this incident on social media. She realized this callous and senseless act did not reflect the Old Dominion she has come to love.
The Student Government Association has recently developed the "Monarchs Raising Up" campaign educating our students on prevention of sexual and relationship violence, bystander intervention, and off-campus responsible behavior. Through video, online and in-person content, we layer education on these topics for all of our students throughout the year. All new freshman just received education this weekend on preventing discrimination and sexual assault in sessions we call "First Class."
Here is a link to a video from our student leaders responding to this event--just one example of how Old Dominion University students take a stand every day in regards to respecting each other and promoting responsible behavior: https://youtu.be/NC72ruvRtdY
I said at my State of the University address that there is zero tolerance on this campus for sexual assault and sexual harassment. This incident will be reviewed immediately by those on campus empowered to do so. Any student found to have violated the code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.
John R. Broderick