Editor’s note: Tyler Rosenstein, the incoming president of the interfraternity council, is a writer for the City & State section of The Collegian. This article includes expletive language. The content of this article might be upsetting to some readers. Resources for UR students include CAPS, at CAPS@richmond.edu or 804.289.8119 and UR’s Bias Incident Response.
The University of Richmond and Kappa Sigma Fraternity Headquarters suspended operations of the Beta Beta chapter after a video from the 2019-2020 academic year depicting members chanting racist remarks and singing along to “Dixie’s Land” became public yesterday.
UR notified members of the chapter of its suspension today, wrote Andrew Gurka, interim director for the Center for Student Involvement, in an email to The Collegian. The administration’s investigation into the matter is still ongoing, Gurka wrote.
The national headquarters of Kap Sig has suspended UR’s chapter while its diversity, equity and inclusion commission completes an investigation to ensure the chapter follows the principles of the fraternity, wrote Mitchell Wilson, Kappa Sigma executive director, in an email to The Collegian.
“The Fraternity strongly condemns the recent video depicting members of the Beta-Beta Chapter as this is contrary to the inclusiveness and principles valued by Kappa Sigma,” Wilson wrote.
The video, which was obtained by The Collegian on Friday night, shows members of Kap Sig chanting “the South will rise again,” as others clap along and sing along to “Dixie’s Land,” the unofficial anthem for the Confederacy. A member of the fraternity who started the chant is also seen yelling: “I want to be a slave owner!” in the video.
The incident recorded in the video occurred after a drinking game called “Civil War.”
Will Heinle, the president of Kap Sig, did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment.
William Bartnett, a senior and outgoing president of the interfraternity council, said he felt upset that behavior like that displayed in the video still occurred at UR and within the Greek life system. However, he said he did not think that racist attitudes were cultivated by Greek life, nor unique to it.
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“These types of behaviors, they’re not representative of what Greek life stands for, and [are] sort of antithetical to the value that we try to provide for our members and for the community,” Bartnett said.
Bartnett also said UR’s acknowledgment of the incident so far had been appropriate, but it had to be followed by action.
Anthony Lawrence, a senior and president of the Richmond College Student Government Association, expressed a similar sentiment as Bartnett regarding communication about the incident from UR officials. He appreciated that UR President Kevin Hallock sent an email to the community the same day the video was published, Lawrence said.
“I'll give [Hallock] credit for that,” Lawrence said. “But I think, ultimately, we’re just trying to figure out ‘what's gonna actually happen?’ What actions are going to be done?”
RCSGA and the Westhampton College Government Association also sent a message to the UR community emphasizing the need for students to hold each other accountable to prevent all forms of hatred.
As a student leader, Lawrence’s first reactions to the video were of disgust, disdain and ultimately tiredness for having to deal with continuous acts of racism, antisemitism and sexual assault at UR, he said. But he and Penny Hu, a junior and WCGA president, saw the silver lining in this instance: someone reported the video.
“Now that the issue that was done in the dark has been brought to light, we can deal with that issue head-on,” he said.
Lawrence also believes in restorative justice and hopes UR helps the students involved in the video understand why their actions were wrong instead of removing them from the institution, he said.
“I am trying to see the good in everyone and trying to frame this type of humanity where people can mess up and have a mistake and be reconciled to that mistake,” Lawrence said.
Contact editor-in-chief Jackie Llanos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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