Web Comments About Black Fraternity Leave University Of South Carolina Examining Racial Climate
COLUMBIA, S.C. A student has been kicked out of a University of South Carolina fraternity as a series of racially charged comments about a Black fraternity posted on a Web site has school officials scrutinizing the racial climate of the Greek community.
The comments on a message board at <www.fratty.net> were directed at members of the historically Black fraternity Omega Psi Phi. The organization is building a house at USC’s all-White Greek village (see Black Issues In Higher Education, July 28, 2005).
The national office of Kappa Sigma fraternity has kicked out one member in connection with the anonymous postings, and the organization plans to hold sensitivity training for the USC chapter.
The comments, which expressed anxiety over the group moving into the formerly all-White student neighborhood, included racial epithets and obscenities.
“It’s just something you’d read on a bathroom stall in some filthy place,” says Jerry Brewer, student life director. “I’m just appalled that this just happened.”
Brewer held an emergency meeting with campus Greek organizations. University officials also contacted the national Greek organizations of the students who could be identified.
USC’s Office of Student Judicial Programs was notified and officials examined the message boards to ensure no laws were broken.
“It was inappropriate. It was bad judgment,” says Dr. Dennis Pruitt, vice president for student affairs. “It doesn’t appear it was life-threatening. It does appear to us that we have work to do with our students about being sensitive to each other’s feelings.”
The Office of Student Affairs plans to place guidelines for responsible speech on its Web site, and the school may offer a “computer ability quiz” on speech, accountability and privacy issues before students can log onto campus Internet connections.
Damien Robbs, vice president of the Omega Psi Phi chapter at USC, says the fraternity has not addressed the issue yet.
“We really haven’t sat down and discussed it,” he says. “People are upset.”
— Associated Press
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