On Saturday evening, Oct. 28, at an off-campus house, members of the Sigma Chi fraternity sponsored a party that was advertised as a "Halloween in the 'Hood" party. The invitation invoked offensive racial stereotyping. The coordinator of Greek life last week had told the chapter president that he found the advertisement racist and offensive and directed the fraternity to withdraw the advertising immediately. The advertising later reappeared, without the coordinator's knowledge, in altered but still offensive form.
A decoration outside the party site was a plastic skeleton dressed in pirate garb hanging from a rope noose.
The university's community liaison officer was asked early Sunday to respond to the scene of the party. After she did so, a decision was made to close the event down.
The university is now conducting a full investigation into this matter. Based on the information received thus far, the university has suspended all activities of the Sigma Chi fraternity, pending the results of the investigation. The university has also alerted the fraternity's national headquarters about this action. The national fraternity has imposed a 45-day suspension of the chapter's activities and will conduct its own investigation.
The university will be investigating whether the Sigma Chi fraternity chapter or any of its members violated university policies and regulations proscribing:
conduct or a pattern of conduct that harasses a person or a group;The university also will consult with the national fraternity as to whether the local chapter is in compliance with its national charter.
University administrators plan to hold an open meeting with concerned members of the university community this evening. President Brody, who left campus this afternoon to attend a national meeting out of state, issued the following statement:
"The invitation to this party represented a serious and unacceptable misjudgment on the part of the fraternity chapter that organized it. We will move quickly to address that appropriately with the chapter.
"Ours is a university community where students of many races, ethnicities and religions work hard every day to bridge the gaps between them, to unify rather than to polarize. Our students are generally mature, responsible and hard-working. They are appreciative of the opportunity to get to know many people of backgrounds differing from their own.
"I have long been committed to embracing diversity and inclusion on campus, as I recognize its fundamental importance. I take this situation very seriously. I find this incident deeply disturbing, and I'm personally offended.
"It's as simple as this: The adoption of racial stereotyping as a party theme is a repugnant act, and groups that want to consider themselves Johns Hopkins student organizations should understand that the university will not tolerate it."
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