On the first weekend first-years were allowed on Greek property, two separate biased incidents were reported at two different fraternities.
Six students of color were asked to leave a fraternity party, for reasons these students believe to be racially motivated. A student who identifies as LGBTQ alleges he was pulled out of another fraternity’s chapter house by the wrist. Both of these events happened on Saturday, Oct. 29.
Angela Nally, director of Public Safety, sent out an email on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning informing students of the situation.
The email clarified that these incidents occurred at two separate fraternities. However, both incidents will be undergoing investigations, and all parties have been contacted.
First-year Angie Mendez was a member of the group that was asked to leave the fraternity. According to Mendez the group of first-years signed their names at the door and then, after they entered the courtyard at Phi Delta Theta, were told to leave. “They basically herded us out,” said first-year Morgan Lavant who was a part of the group.
First-year Kaleb Anderson who was a member of the group said he was not surprised this happened, but it won’t stop him from going to Greek chapters on the weekends. “It’s not going to stop me from going to greek parties, but it is going to stop me from going to certain parties,” Anderson said. “It just showed me that certain places aren’t meant for me to attend, and certain people are always going to be thinking certain ways.”
Lavant said what happened to her and her friends has happened before to other people. “There’s been other instances and cases and I haven’t seen any results or I haven’t seen anything that has happened,” Lavant said.
“I think this also needs to be addressed by DePauw in general, because even before attending we were told by several upperclassmen that there have been several racial incidents that happened on Greek property,” Anderson said.
In addition, the students were not happy with the University’s response. “They loved saying biased incident, which I personally have an issue with because it was based on our race,” Lavant said, “I feel like it’s not acknowledging the problem, which I think is a problem with DePauw.”
The students did not feel that the Biased Incident Response Team (BIRT) or Public Safety was helpful to solving the issues. “If you were that concerned and wanted to fix the issue, you would ask us as a whole when we are available and where we would feel comfortable to meet,” Anderson said.
According to first-year Kamil Hester who was a part of the incident, she had difficulty meeting with the BIRT or Public Safety. “There was a lot of ‘I’ll be at this place at this time,’ but every time they offered me a date or time I would be in class, every time,” Hester said.
“We haven’t gotten any emails about what they are doing to further the investigation and I haven’t heard anything from IFC, which I also CC’ed in the email and I feel like that is a problem,” said Anderson. “That lets me know that all of the Greeks under IFC don’t deal with these problems.”
“In one of the emails they sent to us personally, they said that they demanded us to leave, but in the email they sent out to everybody they said they asked us to leave, as if it was like a peaceful interaction and they were misrepresenting what actually happened,” said first-year Cailey Griffin.
The student who identifies as LGBTQ and reported a bias incident at Alpha Tau Omega has not come forward to openly discuss the incident.
In addition, BIRT will be meeting with both the student who identifies as LGBTQ as well as the six students of color. “Staff will be available today in the Cultural Resource Center to provide support and information to anyone in our DePauw community,” Nally wrote in her email.
When asked, Nally had advice for students in similar situations to follow. “The first incident [where the LGBTQ student was pulled from a fraternity] has an aspect of a policy violation and or potential criminal violation, so in those instances, either if it’s an emergency you can dial 911 or you can call Public Safety,” said Nally. “In the second instance [6 students of color being asked to leave a fraternity], students felt like they were denied access to something due to someone’s bias against their race, and that might be more of a BIRT call, just because there is no physical danger, no threats.”
Public Safety has spoken with the leadership of both fraternities. “They have been very cooperative and helpful,” Nally said.
When asked to comment, President of Alpha Tau Omega, senior Michael Perry said, “Since an investigation is still ongoing, I should refrain from commenting on any details at this time, in respect for the investigative process.”
In addition, the president of Phi Delta Theta, junior Jonathan Rotman said, “The members of Phi Delta Theta Indiana Zeta do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or disability. We remain steadfast supporters of DePauw’s initiatives in unifying students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community. This chapter is cooperating fully with the University in an inquiry and will have no further comment until concluded.”
Nally could not compare these situations to the biased incident that happened in Humbert Hall earlier this year. “The bias incident that happened in Humbert, we did not have any identifying information for the accused, so that pretty much was a search for the entire investigation trying to find who was responsible,” said Nally. “This is different because that person is already identified.”
Nally felt that each situation would need to be handled in a different manner, but the investigations should be relatively quick.
If anyone has information on this incident Nally said to contact Public Safety. “Even if you don’t know, just call us,” Nally said. “We’ll help get the information to the people it needs to go to.”